Featured Blogger, April: John Howell

This month’s Featured Blogger is John Howell.

From John’s profile pageJohn writes thriller fiction novels and short stories. His story Cold Night Out won an honorable mention in Writers Digest Popular Fiction contest this year. He also won first place in the Kurt Vonnegut Kilgore Trout novel contest, celebrating Kurt Vonnegut as an author. His short story Never Give Inn was selected to be published in the Miracle E-zine fifth issue published in April of 2014.

John lives on Mustang Island in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of south Texas with his wife Molly and their spoiled rescue pets.”

Why did you take up writing?

Since I was a kid, I always enjoyed doing homework assignments that involved a story. “What I did on my summer vacation “ type assignments were my cup of tea. I was the kid who always volunteered to write the script for the class play or Thanksgiving pageant. When in High school I worked on the school newspaper and the yearbook. I always enjoyed being closely associated with the written word. In college, I took some creative courses, and for whatever reason, I drifted into organized commerce and was held prisoner until I escaped in 2012. It was then I decided to go back to my original love and take up writing. I have been writing ever since.

What kind of writing did you read as a child?

I read most everything. I like the picture books but then got into novels when I was in the fourth grade. I remember doing a report on a book titled “The Raft.” It was about some airmen who were forced to live in a tiny life raft during World War II. I got the report back, and the teacher made a note that the book was way too adult for my age. She also suggested I didn’t understand some of the words used. We had a conference, and I walked out with an A and a note for my mother. As long as I can remember I read books about bigger than life situations with bigger than life heroes. The Red Badge of Courage was one of the first

What kind of work did you do before writing?

Before I started writing I lead three work lives. The first was the head of a fortune 500 company where I had worked my way from sales representative to President. The second work life was as a marketing consultant. The final was as a director of contracting working for a huge telecommunications company.

You mention Kurt Vonnegut in your profile statement. Is he one of your influences?

He more than any writer had a profound impact on my decision to write. His stories were, by and large, pulled from daily life with significant historical significance as a backdrop. They were well written and carried an element of humor that made them seem so easy to pen. Of course, once starting I discovered Kurt was a genius in using a few words to say the most profound things.

How does your personal history influence your writing?

I have drawn from the experiences I had as a child and an adult. I think the influence on my writing centers on using characters in my books as ways to explore some of the feelings these experiences caused me to have. I remember some fun times and some tragic, but in each, there is energy that can be tapped to tell a story. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to lead the kind of life that provided enough life moments to be utilized in such a positive way.

What drew you to writing thrillers?

I have always enjoyed reading mysteries and Thrillers. It has been fascinating to discover along the way a thriller differs from a mystery. A mystery has an occurrence like a dead body. The story then goes on to offer clues and in the end to find out who killed whom. A thriller, on the other hand, has the murder take place right before the reader’s eyes and by a perpetrator who is readily identified. The idea of the thriller is to see if the guilty party is brought to justice. If found that it is more fun to go ahead and build a story around the guilty party than to try and to find out who did the deed.

When did you start your blog?

I started blogging in April of 2012. I had just retired from organized commerce and was ready to take on writing as a full-time occupation. I thought it would be a good thing to help build a voice for my writing efforts. Secondarily I thought it would be good practice.

6. How did you come up with the idea of using dialogue to bring the reader into the story?

Dialog has always been the weakest part of my writing. Before I published my first book, I wrote short stories and comments always came back about the dialog. Most of the criticism was in two areas.

1. The conversations seemed stilted since I used a few contractions.

2. My tags were atrocious.

To work out of these two problems I decided to construct stories with only dialog and without tags. The key here was to give the reader a story with just conversation and to identify each speaker by the content of the words and not “He/she said” or any other tag.

I have been doing these stories for about four years, and I think I might be getting close to working out the weakness

How do you come up with story ideas?

I am a raving pantster. I usually have no idea what I’m going to write when I first sit down to do a story or book. When I do prompts I typically have a visual to get me started, but a novel requires some thinking about the story and where the story is going to go. I spend about three or so weeks working on the last three lines of a book. Once these are done, I know how the story is going to end and then can go back to the beginning and start working. The last three lines don’t usually survive, but the idea is there.

What excites you most about blogging?

I get a charge out of folks commenting on what I have done. My blog is not one of those writer “how to” type of blogs. I post, and my objective is to keep the post under 500 words and to elicit a smile from everyone who takes the time to visit. I have three stories a week. Two of them are prompt driven, and the third is a serial that I make up. The other four days are devoted to happy things around the neighborhood, a Top Ten list of things not to do, a pictorial of my dog’s adventures, and musing about life. The biggest criticism I received about my content was I don’t write about writing. It is a valid criticism. I write about life.



What makes your day a good and happy one?

An excellent and happy day to me is one filled with the following.

1. A thousand words on my WIP.

2. Visits to my blog by the regulars

3. A romp with my dogs.

4. Dinner with my wife.

What advice do you have for new writers and bloggers?

It was once said that you have not mastered the writing craft until you write one million words. New writers and bloggers ought to think about that and feel good about trying their best to become a master. Notice I didn’t say trying their best to become published or to have their first thousand followers. I honestly believe that too many new writers and bloggers do not exercise enough patience to become a master at what they do. To illustrate what I’m thinking here think of learning to skydive. Sure you want to jump out of a plane more sooner than later, but imagine if the instructor handed you a parachute and told you to jump. None of us would do that I’m sure. When we start writing it is as if we are hell-bent for publication or to find a short cut to more followers. Take the time to build quality and publication and followers will come. Trust me.

Describe yourself in 3 words.

Obsessed, dedicated, loyal

 

Book cover for our Justice
Our Justice

Please share an excerpt from your newest or most recent novel.

This is an excerpt from Circumstances of Childhood.

Chapter One

 

So, with nothing better to do, I figure I’ll stop at Jerry’s place and grab a couple a drinks and a burger. Usually, I don’t go there on Saturday night since there’s a crapload of amateurs taking up what would be considered prime space. I figure since this is a Friday, and close to Saturday, it may be packed but not as crazy as Saturday. It’s the kind of place where everyone minds their business. Today’s events will, probably, not register with the people in the bar. They’re there for a good time and will likely not notice me. Even so, I go through the door, stop, and have a look around, trying not to make eye contact. I hope that the ball cap and large coat will keep me from getting noticed. The bar holds a weekday crowd, all right, hanging on each other like they never had a date before. I tighten my eyelids against the smoke and make out four guys near the pool table and what looks like a couple of girls fetching drinks. I search for a seat beyond the table in the back, but it seems like they’re all taken.

A guy bumps into me as I stand here. I say excuse me, and he looks me in the face. “Hey, don’t I know you?” he says.

“I don’t think so.” I make to turn away.

“Yeah, you’re the sports hero who lost all his money. I saw you on TV.”

“Naw, people always say stuff like that. I’m not him, buddy; trust me.”

He gives me a puzzled look but doesn’t want to push it in case he has it wrong. I turn away and continue to look for a seat.

Straight ahead lies the bar, and it has a place right in the middle. I move in the direction of the empty place and look over to the other side of the room. The tables look full of happy drunks. Buckets of empties line the bar top, and the barmaid’s trying to sell more. She doesn’t have much luck since most of these people just spent their last five bucks on this outing. Upon making it to the stool, I hoist myself up and lean on the bar.

“Hey, Greg,” Jerry says. “Whadda you have?”

“Evening, Jerry. I’ll have a gin on the rocks with a water back.”

“Comin’ up.”

I like Jerry’s no-nonsense way of handling things. He doesn’t like small talk and gets right to business. My eyes smart from the smoke, and I wonder how Jerry gets away with letting people kill themselves when, clearly, it’s not supposed to be allowed in this kind of establishment.

“Here you go. Want me to run a tab?”

“Yeah, I would appreciate that. I intend to have another drink and then a burger.”

The guy who thinks he knows me grabs my shoulder from behind. I almost fall off the stool.

“You’re Greg Petros, the big fund manager. I knew I saw you on TV. You took a beautiful career in football and ran it into the ground.”

Jerry leans over the bar and lays his hand on the guy’s shoulder. “Move on, my friend. You made a mistake. This guy is nobody. Go sit down and let me buy you a drink.”

“You sure? You called him Greg.”

“Yeah, I’m sure. Go get a table, and I’ll send someone over.”

The guy looks at me one more time but does as Jerry suggests. He believes Jerry’s wrong, but the idea of a free drink lets him get away without losing face.

“Thanks. I didn’t mean for you to have to jump in.”

“No problem. Gimme the high sign when you’re ready for another drink.”

“Will do. Thanks.”

“For you buddy, anything.”

I should mention that Jerry and I go back aways. When I fell on hard times, he became the only one that seemed to give a shit. I take a sip of my drink and wait for the burn in my throat, which signals the good stuff. Here it comes. I take a swig of the water and almost believe life is good. The gin needs to get to the brain before making any honest judgment.

While I wait for the warmth to go from my stomach to my head, I check out the folk seated on either side of me. They both have their backs turned to me and sit engrossed in some discussion with their neighbor. I figure it’s just as well since I don’t want to go through that old “don’t I know you?” bullshit again. Also, I don’t figure on staying the night, so no use in getting into any long discussions about life.

I look down at my drink and wonder what will happen tomorrow. My daughter Constance wants to come and visit. She lives in New York, and before all hell broke loose, we didn’t see each other often. I missed her so much, and it seemed as if I had to beg her even to talk on the phone. Now, it’s like she wants to be here every weekend. It’s only an hour’s flight by the shuttle or three by train, so she can come when she wants. I just can’t figure out why she got so clingy. I have my troubles, but it doesn’t have anything to do with her. No use in asking her husband either. Though a nice enough guy, I always wonder if he has someplace important to go when I visit. He never sits still and stays busy on the phone or at the computer. He makes a good living, but it seems a person could take an hour to sit and talk. I’d looked forward to some kind of relationship when he and Constance got married. It’ll never happen with him.

When I take another pull at my drink, I notice the burn feels less. It happens every time. First sip initiation, I call it. It’s like the first puff of a cigarette, hits hard then, after, nothing. I decide to let Constance pretty much have the agenda tomorrow. She and I have not had a chance to talk about anything deep for a while. It could just be that she blames me for her mother running off with that guy with the house on the Hudson. He has a title, and the old gal couldn’t resist, but I think the daughter always felt I should have done something. Her mother’s sleeping with another guy and what the hell can I do about that?

I’ll just go with the flow. If she wants to go out, we will. If she wants to stay in, we can do that too. I better think about getting some food in the house. Of course, we can always order take out. I need to move on to my drink and let this go. Tomorrow will be what it is. I remember the day she was born. I looked down at her in my arms and promised I would do anything for her. I love her more than life itself, and I hope we can somehow get to the root of whatever’s wrong. She sounded strange on the phone this morning, and I feel helpless to do anything about it. I hope she opens up when she gets here.

For some reason, I feel tired. Perhaps I’ll go ahead and finish my drink. Maybe I’ll just go home and forget the burger. First, though, I’ll just shut my eyes for a minute. My hands feel good when I put my head down.

“Hey, Greg,” Jerry says. I barely hear him. “What’s the matter? You taking a nap? Greg?” I can feel him shake me, but I have no interest in waking up. His voice gets further away, and I think he says, “Oh, my God, Sophie, call 911, quick.” Now the room goes silent.

 

 

Thank you, John.

Contact information

Blog Fiction Favorites, http://johnwhowell.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/john.howell.98229241

Twitter –https://www.twitter.com/HowellWave

Authors db –http://www.authorsdb.com/authors-directory/6604-john-w-howell

LinkedIn –http://www.linkedin.com/pub/john-w-howell/48/b59/462/

Google +https://plus.google.com/+JohnHowellAuthor/

Goodreads –https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7751796.John_W_Howell

Amazon Author’s page –https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell

 

Rob Goldstein 2019

Images owned by John Howell, all rights reserved.

February’s Featured Blogger: Teagan’s Books

I was unwell for most of December and January and did not find a featured
blogger for February so am re-posting my feature of friend and sometimes collaborator, Teagan Geneviene.

Since the first publican of this interview, Teagan released Atonement in Bloom.

Lilith and the Blue Rose of the Impossible

The quaint town was stranger than Ralda Lawton could have imagined.  The local population included supernatural beings.  Yet only she and a few others knew about that.

Although she didn’t know the details, in a past life, Ralda ― Esmeralda had been involved in something with those supernaturals and it had carried into her present life.  In Atonement, Tennessee, that almost got her killed.  Now she has new problems, and new supes to complicate matters.

Atonement in Bloom continues the misadventures of Ralda, her friends, and neighbors in the small (but far from peaceful) town of Atonement, Tennessee.  Her old house and cemetery are still there, along with Lilith the cat, quirky townsfolk, and assorted supernaturals.

Now Lilith the calico sniffs out a strange beast.

Fae foolery backfires.

A friend is abducted.

On a cold December day, Atonement, Tennessee comes into bloom.
Atonement in Bloom.

This month I’m honored to feature Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene of
Teagan’s Books.

Marketing Graphic for Thisledown
Thisledow

When did you start writing?

My seventh-grade teacher gave us an assignment that truly inspired my young mind — Write a story.  However, we only had two options about the story 1) Write it from the point of view (POV) of a cartoon character, or 2) from the POV of the shoes of a famous person.  Well, 12-year-old me watched talk shows after school, not cartoons.  So, I saw plenty of “famous people” and “used to be famous” ones too, on Merv Griffin’s TV show.  I liked the ones who talked about their pets.  So, I wrote my story as a pair of red pumps belonging to actress Doris Day.  (Back then I don’t think she was still making movies, but she was known for all her dogs.)  I had so much fun that I also gave half the class verbal outlines for their stories.

In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I did a few stories on my own.  My teacher wanted to see them.  She said good things about the one for the assignment so (not that I thought I had any choice) I let her have the stories.  They were Twilight Zone-ish stories and one was about child abuse.  They got a lot of attention…

My teacher spoke to my parents. 

My parents told me very sternly to never do that again!

That said, I guess I started writing in my late thirties.  Throughout my life novels were my only escape from the personal difficulties (yes, abuse too) that I faced each day.  I had read a couple of interviews with writers, and decided to write a fantasy novel.  I did a lot of research and work, read more interviews, and then I dove into it.  With that start, I never stopped.

Marketing Graphic for Teagan's Books
Teagan’s books

You started your blog as an adjunct to self-publishing, how do you define your blog now?

I’m sure you’ve seen the same advice I always see for us Indies – You must have a blog to promote your work!  Well, I couldn’t bear the thought of droning on about my novel with every post.  Instead, I modified a writing exercise I created for myself long ago.  I brought that exercise to my blog (Teagan’s Books).  I had the readers send me three random things.  I let the random things drive every detail of a serial story, setting, plot, and characters.  That resulted in  The Three Things Serial Story, which gave birth to my current release, a culinary mystery.  However, this time the “things” are food related — or ingredients.  So that one is Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I.  I’ve published both of those serials in book form.

That “pantser” style of writing, combined with engaging my audience (having them send “things” or otherwise promoting them) seems to have defined my blog.

I also mean for my blog to be a sanctuary for everyone.  I keep it free from religion and politics, even though there are issues about which I feel strongly.

Where were you raised and how does that affect your style?

I’m a southerner by birth, but I was “enchanted” by the desert southwest of the USA when I moved to New Mexico.  Like the old John Denver song, I had come home to a place I’d never been before.  The truth is, I wish every day that I had never left.  However, many things about the southeast – the deep south made an impact that remains with me.  Following the advice, “Write what you know,” many of my stories have a southern setting.

What writers give you inspiration?

Robert Jordan (the Wheel of Time series) inspired me with his detailed world-building.  Charlaine Harris influenced me with writing in first-person.  That was something I never cared to do until I did my first National Novel Writing Month and created my début novel, Atonement, Tennessee.  To my surprise, all the serial stories at my blog turned out to be written in first person as well. David Eddings influenced me with the way he showed his sense of humor, particularly in the Belariad series.

What are your top 3 tips for new bloggers?

Reciprocate.  Answer every comment, and try to do so with more than just “Thank you.”

Don’t “act/look like an expert” if you are not.  If you have credentials then say so – and make that information something the reader can find without digging.  If you found useful information, and you just want to share it, then say so.

Make it easy to read.  Light colored (or splotchy, speckled) backgrounds with medium colored text are hard to read, no matter how good your content.  Also, those horrid pop-ups, soliciting subscriptions.  If I’ve barely started reading and one of those things blocks me from that read, I don’t care to continue.

Thank you Teagan! A short section from one of your books would be great way to close the interview.

Marketing Graphic for Teagan's Books on Amazon
Teagan’s Books Header Image

Since I’ve been promoting the release of Murder at the Bijou — Three Ingredients I,  I want to share a short story.  It is not in the book, but it’s still from that “universe,” and features the heroine of that 1920s series.

Here goes:

Pip’s a Chicken

“Bock, bock-bock.  Bock!  Baaawk!

Of all the nerve!  My mouth dropped open.  I was speechless.  Granny Phanny bocked at me like a chicken.  She bocked.  She put her fists under her armpits and flapped her boney elbows — and she bocked at me!

Then, to make matters worse, she laughed.

Why that banty little old woman.  Of all the self-important, cockalorem…

“Oh Pip, if you could see the look on your face,” she said, still chuckling.  “It’s not like you to chicken out.  Now tie on your apron and we’ll look at this recipe together.

Granny hung an apron around my neck, and then put her hands on my shoulders to forcibly turn me around.  She tied a bow in back that I knew without looking was perfectly symmetrical.

“But Granny, I nearly set the kitchen on fire last time,” I complained, sincerely afraid of what damage I might cause.

“Hush that nonsense right now, Sweetpea.  We’ll not be having any fires.  Just because your fried chicken turned out as tough as an old rooster doesn’t mean you can quit.”

“An old rooster?” I exclaimed, mortified.

I looked at the recipe card.  “Chicken Fricassee…” I read aloud.  “Dredge chicken pieces in the flour mixture; coat well.  Oh Granny, this sounds pos-i-lutely like a repeat of the fried chicken disaster.  Granny?”

Phanny Ilene Peabody was gone.  Her purse was missing from the corner table.  I called out again and she hollered from the living room.

My eyes fell on the calendar that hung on the wall.  Wong’s Chinese Restaurant made one annually for Chinese New Year.  Granny was going to an early dinner with friends.

“No wonder she wasn’t worried about me ruining dinner again,” I grumbled.  “Granny!” I yelled.

“I’ll be back this evening, Pip.  Just keep the stove set to low while you fry that chicken, and follow the instructions for the fricassee.”

I blew a raspberry as the front door closed with a thud.  My hand plopped down on the plump poultry with a smacking sound.

“Old rooster, huh?  I’ll show her,” I muttered and went back to the recipe card.

***

Copyright © 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

The Three Things Serial Story

Amazon USA, Paperback and Kindle

Murder at the Bijou

Amazon USA Paperback  and Kindle

Atonement, Tennessee Amazon Kindle and Paperback

You can also connect with Teagan at:

Amazon:    https://www.amazon.com/Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene/e/B00HHDXHVM
Twitter:     https://twitter.com/teagangeneviene
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/TeagansBooks
Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/teagangeneviene/
YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoM-z7_iH5t2_7aNpy3vG-Q
LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/teagangeneviene

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Executive

The alarm rang and the radio spat news.

Bonwit Teller opened his eyes to a foggy San Francisco morning.

He threw off the comforter, angrily pulled down the shades, and
crawled back into bed.

The phone rang

“Hi Bonwit, it’s Jerry. This is your wake-up call per your request.”
“Hi Jerry”
“Are you up?”
“Yeh”
“That was a helluva rant you gave last night”
“Which one? I was drunk.”
“About Old Man Lazaro.”

Bonwit sat up.

Jerry continued: “You made Old Man Lazaro look like a jackass.”

Bonwit sighed: “I guess I owe him an apology. I say wicked things
when I’m drunk. Thanks for the wake-up Jerry.”

Market Street looked like an Exodus scene.

“Let my people go,” Bonwit heard a beggar say.

He dropped some cash into the beggars’ cup and hurried into
the underground.

He saw another beggar sitting cross-legged in front of the
ticket machine.

His sign read: “Dying from AIDS. Please help.”

Bonwit dropped some cash into his cup and hurried onto
the platform.

Bonwit was desperate for the train to arrive.

He thought of Old Man Lazaro: his face boyish, yet old, kind, yet cruel.

Bonwit spat on that face and remembered his rage at last night’s dinner.

Lazaro compared Bonwit to a General in a noble army:

“That’s what you are.” Lazaro said. “The sales force is your army. They depend on you for supplies and protection. Your people need you Bonwit.”

“I’m just a fucking travel agent and you’re just an old queen!” Bonwit drunkenly snarled.

Bonwit rose from the station and entered the Pyramid.

Bonwit thought; I am truly a pain in the ass.

As if I don’t know why I’m here

He smiled benevolently at the housekeeper. “Good morning Violet.”

’’Morning Mister Teller.”

“Have I met my obligations to you this week?”

“I got a paycheck if that’s what you mean?”

“I’m so pleased.” Bonwit replied.

He entered his office and rang his secretary: “Mary, will you call the Whiskey Shop and have a bottle of Macallan 1939 delivered to Mr. Lazaro?

“Yes Mr. Teller. Mr. Lazaro is in his office. He wants to meet with you.”

Bonwit entered Lazaro’s office and took a seat.

Lazaro glared at him. “Bonwit, darling! You’re late.”

“I walked this morning.”

Lazaro laughed.  “I’m removing you from the Booth Account. Shirley
complained this morning.”

“About what.”

“She said Baxter’s tickets were late.”

“I had those tickets printed and sent before Shirley ordered them.”

Lazaro shrugged and smiled. “Maybe she has it in for you. Maybe she doesn’t
like old queens.”

Bonwit returned to his office and crossed to the picture window
behind his desk.

He studied the expanse of the Bridge and the shimmering blue
waters below.

(c) Rob Goldstein 2015-2019
‘Behind the Pyramid’ (c) Rob Goldstein

First posted May, 2017-Revised and re-posted January 2019.

 

 

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October’s Featured Blogger: Mae Clair

Author Mae Clair is October’s Featured blogger in this, the second re-boot of my monthly featured blogger post.

In our interview, Mae shares some of her history and ideas about writing and success.



In your profile, you say you like to blend genres; does it happen as you write?

It developed as my writing progressed. I never liked being pigeon-holed to a certain genre, so my early books were a mash-up of mystery and romance. The romance eventually fell by the wayside and mystery took center stage. I do, however, blend that up with elements of the supernatural, paranormal, and psychological aspects. One book also included a bit of sci-fi with UFO sightings and Men in Black.

You wrote your first story at six; what was it about?

I don’t remember the content. What I do remember is being given the assignment and my classmates scrawled out a few lines while I produced a few pages. Everyone said “Have Mae read hers.” I think it had to do with the people who lived in a city. I do remember The Night Dog which I wrote when I was eight. It was about a girl who kept seeing a ghost dog out of her window each night when she went to bed.


What is cryptozoology and when did your interest in it begin?

Cryptozoology is a pseudo-science devoted to the study of things that may exist but have not been proven to exist. Think Bigfoot, Loch Ness, or—my personal favorite—the Mothman. I’ve always been attracted by creatures and monsters from the time I was a kid. As an adult, I became fascinated with myth, urban legends, and folklore. I love the “what if” possibilities. I’ve made two research trips to the area where the Mothman was spotted by approximately 100 people in 1967. Doing that helped me add an extra level of authenticity to my Point Pleasant series of novels which blend the legend of the Mothman with historical elements and my own fictional twist.

Robert Kennedy discusses school with young Ricky Taggart
Kennedy discusses school with young Ricky Taggart


In your profile, you mention that you enjoy reading almost anything
about Robert Kennedy. Why Robert Kennedy?

I never knew anything about him until I caught a movie that was done somewhere in the early 2000s. It intrigued me enough to seek out more information. I started watching documentaries and devouring books about his life. He wasn’t a saint, but he had noble ideas that crossed boundaries of race and class, reaching out the downtrodden and migrant farm workers.  When you read about his family dynamics—his relationship with his parents, brother John, his wife and kids—he was so much than a politician. He was also the same man who made Hoffa squirm and was ruthless in going after organized crime as Attorney General. When he was campaigning in 1968 he said “there are guns between me and the White House.” Sadly, he was correct. We’ll never know how the country might have been different had he made it to the presidency.

Who are your favorite mystery writers?

There are several big name authors who are auto-buys for me. The writing team of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child top the list. I go fan-girl over their Aloyisus Pendergast novels. I’m also a big fan of Kevin O’Brien, Tana French, Jennifer McMahon, P. J. Parrish, and—most recently—Shari Lapena.

How do you stay disciplined and organized?

I don’t know that I am, LOL. I feel completely disorganized, always treading water to keep up. When it comes to writing, I try to devote my weekends to my latest WIP. That’s a habit I developed years ago, and for the most part, I’m pretty good sticking with it. When you do something often enough, it becomes routine.

 

Which is your favorite book and why?

Of the books I’ve written? It’s a tie between A Cold Tomorrow, book 2 of my Point Pleasant series, and Cusp of Night, my most recent release. A Cold Tomorrow is focused on the Mothman but also delves deeply into the mythology of UFO flaps, flicker phenomenon, and cross dimensions. The research was fascinating. It’s also research that draws me to Cusp of Night. The story has two timelines—one in the present, and one in the late 1800s—with both converging at the end. For the 1800s, my research was focused on the Spiritualism movement, table tilting, ghostly rappings, and sham mediums. That’s a rabbit hole I’d definitely go down again.

 

What advice do you have for writers who want to use their blogs to market their books?

Don’t overdo the marketing. Our blogs are the place where we can market and not feel guilty about it, but there’s more to blogging than self-promo. Mix it up with fun and interesting posts about things you love to do. About your writing journey. Invite other authors to do guest posts and provide them promo spots when they have new releases. The blogging/writing community is an awesome one. Visit your fellow/sister bloggers, learn about them, and become friends. Writing is just as much about connecting as putting words on paper. Don’t neglect that side of it.

How do you define success?

That’s a tough question, because I measure different levels of success. As a kid, my dream was to be a published author. I’ve achieved that. I wanted to be read by others. I’ve achieved that, too. Locally, I’m starting to garner recognition and have been invited to guest speak at community events (I have another engagement coming up in November). I am not, however, earning enough to write full-time which is my ultimate dream. I’m very happy with the levels of success I’ve achieved, but I have an A-type personality, so I’m still chasing dragon tails and the brass ring. If nothing else, it’s an enjoyable journey!

 

Mae Claire - Cusp of Night
Cusp of Night Book Cover

Will you share something from your most recent novel? 

 

I’d love to. Thank you for asking. And thank you for inviting me to visit your blog, Rob! I hope your readers enjoy this short excerpt from Cusp of Night:

 

Maya walked home, keeping to the main road. With the lack of traffic and city sounds, surrounded by old buildings and cobbled sidewalks, it was easy to imagine herself in Charlotte Hode’s era.

 

“Ugn…”

 

The groan prickled the hair on the back of her neck. She froze at the mouth of an alley, primed for flight.

 

“Who’s there?”

 

The croak came again, sluggish and low, the unmistakable sound of someone in pain. Maybe it was some stupid kid playing a game.

 

“This isn’t funny.”

 

Her stomach lurched to her throat. If someone really was hurt and she did nothing, she’d never forgive herself. It was a passing motorist who’d called for help when her car had careened off the road.

 

Cautious, she inched closer to the mouth of the cutaway. The illumination from the nearest street lamp only carried a few feet, barely edging into the dark maw. “Is someone there?”

 

Slipping her hand into her pocket, she felt for her cell phone. One call to 911 would bring help or keep her safe if the situation deteriorated. A few steps more and she could discern a man slumped against the side of a building.

 

“Sir, are you hurt?” God help her if he was drunk. She kept a safe distance, and activated the flashlight on her phone.

The man shifted, angling toward her. Something large loomed up behind him, a shadow rising from the ground. It took Maya a moment to realize the thing had been squatting there all along, silent in the nightscape—a monstrosity shrouded in black with a pulpy head and eyes that burned white cinders.

 

She screamed.

 

The creature ran, deft as a whistle of air, swallowed by the bloated shadows of the alley.

 

 

 

Bookcover Cusp of Night 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 . . .
Cusp of Night

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 Books by Mae Clair

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Interview with Mae Clair Rob Goldstein,  2018