The Aha Moment

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Even before I started writing, relationships have fascinated me, especially the married ones. I love hearing the How We Met stories. Couples enjoy sharing their unique history. Some say, I knew right away. Others laugh and say, I hated him at first. A husband once told me that he chased after his wife for a year before convincing her he was the one. The stories may seem similar, but none are the same.

Whether you’ve just met or you’ve known each other for years, there’s that single defining moment ─ the Aha Moment ─ when you realize you’re in love with this person. Your perspective suddenly changes, and you think, Why didn’t I see that before? Women have mentioned a small gesture from their one that fills them with pure joy. Warmth washes over you, goose bumps appear from a light touch, or your heart flutters with knowing.

My mom said she knew fifty years ago when my dad placed his hand at her back as they walked along a busy sidewalk. At a dinner party, Kraig held my hand under the table as we ate … an intimate gesture in a crowded room while reassuring me with his smile and dreamy blue eyes. ((sigh)) Oh, um, uh, what was I saying? Oh, yeah.

I think it’s one of the reasons romance novels are extremely popular. Who doesn’t want to feel that newness and excitement of meeting the one? It gives us hope that the unlimited possibilities are out there just waiting to happen to us.

In Their Rigid Rules, Stuart and Taylor share an initial attraction in a lecture hall. As Stuart struggles with his PTSD, he’s drawn to Taylor’s empathetic nature.

In Chemical Attraction and Chemical Reaction, Joe and Madeline felt an immediate connection at her Aunt Sylvia’s B & B. After a rocky start, they learn that their scars make them who they are and what they love about each other. The healing power of Love is incredibly profound.

Even after ten years of marriage, Matt and Eva Connor, another couple from Chemical Attraction and Chemical Reaction, are still crazy about each other. Soon, I’ll share their unique history of love, sacrifice, and devotion from their beginning in The Kindred Code.

In The Garden Collection, Brianna and Robert have known each other since childhood. However, they fell in love with the other at different times during their friendship. When Robert saved Brianna from her fifth grade bully, Brianna knew she loved him, but Robert didn’t realize he loved her until she was sixteen.

I truly believe there is nothing ordinary about any relationship. Do you remember that Aha Moment when you knew you found your one? Care to share? Or are you saving it for your own romance novel?

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Review of Eclipse Lake by @MaeClair1

Eclipse Lake cover

 

Eclipse Lake

By Mae Clair

Published: June 21, 2014

 

Blurb

Small towns hold the darkest secrets.

Dane Carlisle returns to his hometown fifteen years after leaving his criminal past behind, hoping to make amends with his estranged brother.

He didn’t count on falling in love with free-spirited nature photographer Ellie Sullivan, or for the discovery of skeletal remains to put him dead center in an unsolved missing person’s case.

Review

As a fan of Mae Clair’s other novels, I was not disappointed with Eclipse Lake. I enjoyed her vivid description of the sleepy town near Eclipse Lake. Although I liked the mystery and suspense, I loved the family dynamic even more. I’m a sappy sucker for a man with a healthy relationship with his son. The funny banter and touching interactions of the Carlisle Clan (Dane, Jesse, & Jonah) made me laugh and cry. Ms. Clair has done a superb job delving deep into the many levels of the Carlisle family. 5-Stars!!

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The Energy of Words and Actions

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Although this memory is dear to me, I debated whether to share it. However, the message outweighs my cringe-worthy embarrassment.

The origin of The Garden Collection has a bit of my own back history. When I was young, my family moved around a lot. Between 2nd and 5th grade, I attended five different schools usually starting in the middle of the year. As hard as it was to make friends, I started to wonder if it was worth trying, especially if we were moving again.

My clothes weren’t fashionable. My pants were a tad too short. My glasses were thick. I was shy and had an overbite … as nerdy as you can get. Surprise! I was picked on constantly.

Well, one day in 5th grade music class, our teacher told everyone to sing and sing loudly. Since I knew the song she played on the piano, I happily complied. By the chorus, not only were twenty students looking at me, the teacher stopped playing and openly mocked me with many of the students joining in. To say I was mortified is an understatement. I just gave the whole class more ammunition against me.

It was then that the popular boy spoke up. “Stop it,” he yelled. “She told us to sing loud.” All I could do was stare at him. That never happened before; the class actually stopped taunting me.

Well, it wasn’t the last time I was teased or bullied. It wasn’t even the last time that day. However, the mental snapshot has always stayed with me when I realized two things in that moment:

1) My feelings weren’t invisible like I thought; and

2) I mattered … to that one person at that particular point in time.

It changed the way I saw myself. He had given me a new confidence, and I built on that.

Well, my family stayed in that school district. He and I graduated from high school together. We didn’t really interact, but at a rural school, everyone knows everyone.

He inspired me to write a story about that moment. It’s not about him or me; it’s about the message that words of encouragement can stay with you for a lifetime. His certainly had.

I saw him with his daughter a while ago. I told him he inspired the story while his daughter listened. Surprised, he didn’t remember his kindness all those years ago. I didn’t expect him to. As awkward as that conversation was, I’m glad I shared it. His daughter left knowing her dad was my fifth grade hero.

I started to wonder if all those people who impacted my life in a positive way knew that they had. I try to share my appreciation whenever I can because the energy of words and actions affects us ─ good and bad. So, for all of the people who made a difference in your life, make sure you let them know. I guarantee you’ll feel great and it’ll make their day.

Learn more about The Garden Collection here.

 

Crazy or Passionate: You decide

Chemical Attraction Cover Art

I enjoy the process of writing. It’s not always fun, but I embrace the challenge of researching, outlining, writing, and rewriting. My favorite part is running the different scenarios by my husband, Kraig.

When I first started writing, I struggled with a transitioning area in my story line for Chemical Attraction. Kraig suggested breakfast at our local diner to talk about it. Of course, I agreed. First, it was his idea. Second, any chance not to cook was a plus. And, third, he was a good sounding board—although less so that day.

After ordering our breakfasts, I explained my dilemma. “What do you think I should do?”

He sipped his coffee. “I think you should kill off one of your main characters.”

“What? Who?” I demanded.

“Matt Connor.” His reply was so casual as if killing a person was a common occurrence. I wondered if I married a hitman.

With my mouth open, I tried to comprehend his words. “I can’t kill Matt. He has a wife and a son. They’d be devastated.”

In the middle of the crowded restaurant, our heated discussion received wide-eyed stares from the patrons closest to us. As I thought about Matt dying, I blinked away a few tears. My bastard husband laughed while I searched my coat pocket for a tissue.

(For the record, I’m not afraid to kill off characters. I’ve done it to progress my other stories. However, Matt has more to share.)

“How could you suggest such a thing?” I asked.

Enjoying my grief, he smiled. “Have someone shoot him. Better yet, have a farm animal maul him to death…”

I blocked out his other malicious ideas. With a sympathetic look, the waitress silently refilled my mug and slid a few extra napkins toward my silverware. I blew my nose with one while she glowered at my horrible husband.

He leaned forward. “Honey, he’s just a character.”

But Matt wasn’t. He had a family. He had feelings. In my head, I knew he was a made-up person. My heart thought differently. Embarrassed by my emotional outburst, I quietly ate my breakfast. Kraig chuckled.

“Am I crazy?” I finally asked.

“Just passionate.” He tried to put a pleasant spin on it, but his wife was a nut job.

Later, I rationally considered his ideas and quickly dismissed them. Matt was safe in that story. We’ll see what happens in the rest of the series though. Wahaha!

I hope I’m not the only “passionate” writer out there with a crazy story like this. Care to share yours?

6 Things To Know About Christina Thompson

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1)  I’m a planner. To say I’m goal oriented would be an understatement. Having battled depression my whole life, I consider working toward my goals my coping mechanism. It gets me up in the morning, helps me focus on the task at hand, and makes me learn something new to accomplish it. Because of my goals, I became a massage therapist, an acupuncturist, and now a published author of five novels with another due out soon.

2)  Every weekend from 1999 to 2001, I commuted from Michigan to Racine, Wisconsin to get my diploma in Acupuncture. The four-hour drive during winter through Chicago traffic scarred me. Now, I don’t like to drive unless I absolutely have to. My husband, Kraig, is my chauffeur. I prefer the navigator role. As much as I push myself out of my comfort zone, I still like to hide. Luckily, I can work from home. We all have quirks, and this is one of mine.

3)  My ideas for stories have come from a variety of places. In Their Rigid Rules, I made the hero Stuart Morgan a history professor as an ode to Kraig, who’s a history buff. Kraig even helped me with the history references. For Chemical Attraction, I became fascinated in nanotechnology after reading an article by Carol Ekarius in Alternative Medicine called, “Welcome to Nano World.” The plot for The Trucker’s Cat was hatched in our local truck stop diner. The Garden Collection came about from my childhood experience with a bully.

4)  My favorite website is IMDb.com. The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is “the definitive collection of movie and television information and content.” Watching TV, I’m constantly asking Kraig if we’ve seen a particular actress in a different show. I’d look her up on the site. Somehow, I get lost in the site when I check the actress which takes me to her leading man in a different movie to what he’s working on now. After playing my own version of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” with the actress, I’ve missed half of the TV show. However, I consider this therapy to keeping my memory sharp. It beats playing Sudoku.

5)  I have a silly side. To amuse myself, I like to hide the used dryer sheets. After I fold our clothes, I take the leftover dryer sheets and hide them in places for Kraig to find later. He’s found them in his jean’s pocket, his wallet, his lunch cooler, and his book next to his bookmark. I once put one in his travel mug. He didn’t find it until after he poured his coffee. Oops. I recently put one in his DVD case of The Avengers. He’ll find that one when he watches all the Marvel movies in order … again.

6)  In December, I’ll turn fifty. One of the things I’d like to do is travel … as the navigator of course. We want to see Mount Rushmore and the Grand Canyon. I want to learn another language. Our bucket list has changed over the years. We’ve crossed some things off while adding a few others. I’d also like to see one of my novels on the big screen. I’m sure I’m not the only writer that dreams about their story concocted from their brains made into a movie. I mean, that’s how we see it when we write, right? The movie in our head plays and we write it down. I’m writing the script for Chemical Attraction to make that goal happen. Challenge accepted! I believe in myself and in miracles.

Care to share your quirk or silly side? Do you get lost in the maze of IMDb? Where do you get your story ideas? Do you see your books as movies in your head as you write?

History with a Twist

Griswold Auditorium side view

It’s no secret that The Chemical Attraction Series is based on Allegan, Michigan. That’s three books and a fourth to be published later this year. Although my husband and I have only lived here for four years, I’ve worked here for over twenty and claim it as my hometown.

So when the city manager with ten years of notes on the history of Allegan asked if I’d write a story using it, I was thrilled … and honored. Then I thought, holy moly, how was I going to do that? Where do I start? Well, Google has become my new best friend.

I found a great article by Dave Hood about creative nonfiction history, which “presents facts and cause and effects but also adds narrative including storytelling, dialogue, setting, and character development.”

At first, I thought the genre I’d write in would be creative historical nonfiction, but now I think it’s still fiction, specifically historical fiction. This genre, in which the story is made up, is set in the past and borrows characteristics of the time period, basically fictional characters in documented situations and/or fictional characters in fictional situations but in the context of a real historical period. BINGO!

In my Series, I’ve used real places in Allegan (aka Allenton) and fictional people. In this next story, main characters will still be fiction even though I’m using the real history of Allegan.

My plan is to create people to observe and participate on the periphery of the town’s history but still have lives and adventures of their own. How boring would this story be if they didn’t? I love the idea of connecting this story with my series, so I’m going to use Matt Connor’s family tree since his family has lived in the town since it became a town. (Okay, I just made up that last part, but see, I’ve already gotten the creative juices flowing.)

With the basic ideas set, my next step is to outline Allegan’s history focusing on major events peppering in a few minor ones. I’ve gotten off to a great start with notes from the city manager, Allegan: Images of America by Nancy J Ingalsbee and Carol B. Garofalo, and Allegan’s History by Joe Armstrong and John Pahl.

Then, I’ll outline my people and plot. I have a feeling I’ll be camping out at the Allegan District Library for the summer. What do you think? Is this the best way to take on this huge undertaking? Please, comments are appreciated. I’ll keep you posted.

 

Inset picture is the Griswold Auditorium (aka the Hartford Auditorium from the Series)

Massage for Two: Part 1

zen basalt stones and bamboo with dew

I believe massage is therapeutic whether it’s a rub-a-dub between friends or a formal one with a professional. With over twenty years of experience as a massage therapist and acupuncturist, I’d like to share four key points on giving and receiving a massage as well as specific techniques for headaches.

1) COMMUNICATION

Communication is the MOST important aspect in massage. For example, I’m working on my husband, Kraig, and he says, “Wow, that’s really sore.” What exactly does that mean? Well, it could mean a couple of things:

A) That’s too hard. It hurts. Stop.

B) That’s the area bothering me. Keep rubbing.

As a receiver, if the pressure is too hard, say so. If it’s not quite in the right spot, say so. HOWEVER, try not to over direct so much that you don’t enjoy the touch of the massage. Be in the moment, take slow deep breaths, feel, and enjoy.

As the giver, every so often ask about the pressure. Try not to get offended if your partner gets bossy. Gently say, “Okay, now try and relax,” or “Okay, I think your time is almost up.” The latter will usually shut him or her up … just ask Kraig.

You each need to make the experience pleasant for the other, so it doesn’t seem like a chore. Oohs, aahs, and moans are permitted and encouraged.

2) QUALITY NOT QUANTITY

You don’t have to do an hour massage to be beneficial. A ten or fifteen minute head, shoulder, or neck massage works wonders. The massage can be done on a bed/massage table in a quiet room with relaxation music or sitting in front of the TV watching your favorite show.

3) ALTERNATE YOUR PRESSURE

During the massage, start with a light touch, work deeper, and then lessen your pressure again. For the receiver, it’s more comfortable. For the giver, you don’t need a lot of hand strength to be effective. The routine doesn’t have to be perfect as long as you remember to alternate between light and deep pressure.

4) THE DEEPER YOU WORK; THE SLOWER YOU WORK

This technique causes less pain because you’re gradually working into troublesome areas. Some may want more neck massage while others want shoulder massage. Your partner may want only light pressure while you want her to use her elbow and body weight to dig into that sore spot. Massage is specific to the person. Always ask and always say. We’re not mind readers, right?

With these key points in mind, let’s get started. At home, Kraig usually sits on the floor while I sit on the sofa. I’ve also had him sit in a chair while I stand behind him, and I’ve even had him stretch out face up at the foot of the bed where I can sit comfortably in a chair.

Today, I’ll describe the headache routine as if standing behind the seated person. You’ll massage the different aspects of the head with this routine. Then, you can concentrate on the specific pain areas later.

FRONTAL HEADACHES:

1) For comfort and stability, have your partner lean back against you. With your fingers, use gliding strokes above the eyebrows on the forehead. Start in the center, gently pull up slightly, and work towards the sides.

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2) Press on Yintang (located between the two eyebrows) for headaches, insomnia and nasal congestion.

3) Massage or thumb glide from the sides of the nose under the cheekbones towards the ears.  Bitong (located beside the sides of the nose) is used for nasal congestion. For sinus pain, press on Yintang and Bitong, pinch along the eyebrows, and press just below the inner point of the eyebrow.

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4) Finger glide from the sides of the chin along the jaw line.

5) Use your thumbs to slide down from the ear/cheekbone area.

6) Rub in a circular motion (round rub) at the corner of the jaw. Stress, headaches, and a clenched jaw all seem to go together.

TEMPLES & PARIETAL HEADACHES:

1) Round rub the temple area. Taiyang (located in the depression to the side of the eye and eyebrow) cools and clears the eyes and relieves sinus pain.

2) Massage along the sides of the head above the ears. Start in the front and work towards the back of the head. The muscles in this area are connected with chewing and clenching of the jaw, so it will be tender. Start light.

3) Massage the ears. Gently pull upward, outward, and downward.

VERTEX HEADACHES:

1) Press along the top of the head starting at the hairline (or in the case of my bald hubby the upper forehead) to the vertex of the head.

2) Press on Baihui located at the vertex where many sutures meet. It’s also considered the soft spot for infants. In adults, pressing on this point relieves headache, vertigo, tinnitus, nasal congestion and even hemorrhoids. (This point has an up-lifting effect hence the reason it helps with hemorrhoids.)

3) Press or round rub Sishencong the four points surrounding Baihui. These help headaches, vertigo, insomnia, and poor memory. Tap this area while studying or taking an exam. I’ve seen a room full of acupuncture students doing this during a test. Yes, I’ve done it, too.

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OCCIPITAL HEADACHES:

1) Stand to the side of your seated partner. Placing your hand on the forehead to support his head, use your thumb and fingers to squeeze along the back of the neck at the base of the head.

2) Next locate Fengchi in the depression at the occiput between the neck muscles. It’s the midpoint between the ear and the vertebrae. Pressing or rubbing this area helps with headaches, vertigo, insomnia, pain, and neck stiffness.

In Part II, I’ll share the general massage routine for your neck and shoulders. Until then, practice the four key aspects for massage and have fun. A special thanks to Kraig for being my demo person for the pictures. Although with the promise of a shoulder rub, it didn’t take much arm twisting.

Meet the Strong Sexy Women from The Chemical Attraction Series

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* In the prequel, Their Rigid Rules, TAYLOR VALENTINE, a natural beauty, embraces her vanilla tendencies. Her plan for her life reinforces those traits. Kindhearted, she doesn’t apologize for giving people the benefit of the doubt.

* In Their Rigid Rules and Chemical Attraction, EVA O’SULLIVAN, a petite Irish spitfire with auburn spiral curls, has big opinions, and you know them whether you want to or not. Masking her vulnerability, she wears her willfulness like armor.

* Akin to Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom, MADELINE PIERCE, a dedicated scientist, has pain in her heart from an abusive relationship. With her Ice Queen persona set, she hides within the realm of her research in Chemical Attraction and Chemical Reaction.

Find these women here

Coming Soon: THERIAN: The Bloody Crescent

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THERIAN, The Bloody Crescent: 1 by Roxanne Kade releases June 10th!

Synopsis:

All Amberlyn Darksky has ever wanted is to be normal.

Amber has never been ordinary. She has a gift, the ability to see memories through simple touch, and for her it’s a curse. Especially when she has to relive her mother’s death, on the night she was born, through her father’s eyes. Leading a sheltered life for years under his constant watch has her yearning for freedom and her acceptance into Cyprus Falls University gives her just that.

Plunged into a world of true love, heartache, seduction, and horror, with a deepening affection for Tayelon Cree, and the undeniable allure of Lucard Colbaine, can she accept what either of them represent in her life? And what about the steely-eyed vampire who invades her dreams?

When the blackouts and nightmares begin, Amber fears the pain that rips into her soul and threatens to destroy her. Before long, she is faced with the truth of her destiny as well as the devastating secrets that surround the people she holds dearest; dark secrets that will truly change the course of her very existence.

Amberlyn will have to fight as hard as possible to remain human while the beasts inside her rage to take over.

☾☾☾☾☾☾☾☾☾☾☾☾☾☾

Pre-order is now available from Kobo and iBooks

iBooks >> https://goo.gl/JZMJN6

Kobo >> https://goo.gl/N8uVen

Add to Goodreads >> https://goo.gl/EFTbhk

What Inspires You?

Dad's Medal

My inspiration for writing has come in many forms: the loving connection I have with my husband, the vitality I see in my adult children, and the trust I have in knowing my family has my back. One particular moving memory has stayed with me for years. It’s still fresh in my mind.

As part of the Honor Our Veterans program at school, my daughter asked her grandfather to speak to her fourth grade class about his experiences during the Korean War. He agreed. With his folder of transparency pictures for his presentation, he and I arrived at Steeby Elementary. My dad rarely spoke about that time in his life, so I was eager to hear what he had to say.

In the First Marine Division of George Company, he had served as a hospital corpsman and medic in an M.A.S.H. unit. He had assisted the doctors and nurses in prepping wounded soldiers for surgery. As he talked about his duties, he showed various pictures of him and his buddies in front of their army tents. My mind flashed to Klinger, Rizzo, and Radar.

A boy asked if he had killed anyone. He hadn’t. The closest he had gotten to battle was when he had volunteered to go to the front lines to bring back injured soldiers.

“Weren’t you scared?” one of the girls asked.

“No,” he replied, “even though I volunteered, I felt I didn’t have a choice. Those injured men needed my help.” He shared a picture of him receiving a commendation medal.

I never saw that picture. I never knew about the medal. I never even heard the story. My siblings and our mother hadn’t either. When I asked him why he never shared it, he shrugged and said someone stole the medal the next day.

Medals for BlogHoping to get him a replacement, my mom contacted the American Legion. A year later, a package arrived with his commendation medal and four others he had been awarded.

That phrase stayed in my head. He did have a choice; he chose not to have one. It’s a quality my protagonists have in many of my stories—to put someone else’s life ahead of themselves. Following a long line of servicemen in my family, my son continues to inspire me by also dedicating his service to his country.

Thank you again for allowing me to share this memory. What has inspired you lately?