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Free* Book Offer!

*Free, in exchange for an honest review. Think we’ve all been around long enough to know nothing is ever free 🙂

The Incident Under the Overpass relaunched last month, and I’m eager to know how it’s being received. While I’m thrilled at the five-star review it has on Amazon, reviews are one of those things where quantity is favored over quality (at least by the algorithms that seem to run all things in our digital age).

So I thought I’d reach out to my WordPress friends. If The Incident Under the Overpass sounds like something you might like to read (see synopsis below), I’d be happy to send you a digital review copy. In exchange, I ask that you post your honest review to both Amazon and Goodreads.

If you’re game, just click this link to fill out the Google form: ARC Request

…and I’ll get back to you in short order with a digital copy. Thanks for playing!

 

When Lacey Becnel awakens under an overpass near her home in New Orleans, she does not yet realize that she’s undergone a profound metamorphosis. Nathan, the dangerously attractive man she discovers at her side, provokes as many questions as answers. As Lacey learns of her emergent abilities, she also finds that nothing will protect her from her growing attraction to Nathan, or his perilous fate.

 

 

 

Greece, Part 2

Photo credit: Stacey Batzer

We had just arrived in Santorini when I posted last week. We took a ferry from Mykonos, with quick drop-offs and pick-ups along the way. No chance to set foot on the other islands in the Cyclades.

They’re called the Cyclades because they encircle the ancient, sacred island of Delos, the one I wrote about last week. Wikipedia tells me the islands—with the exception of Santorini and one called Milos—“are peaks of a submerged mountainous terrain.” Milos and Santorini are volcanic islands.

And the volcano part of Santorini is another big thing that captured my imagination. The island itself is pretty big, it was about a forty-five minute drive from where our ferry docked to the town of Oia. The whitewashed roofs of Oia looked like snow-capped peaks from the ferry port. It wasn’t until we got closer that we realized it was a town—and our ultimate destination.

But apparently, the island was much bigger about 3,600 years ago. That’s when it was decimated by a volcanic eruption, which created the caldera central to Santorini. I was super psyched to gaze upon the waters of the caldera for three solid days. I have wanted to see Crater Lake, a caldera lake in Oregon, for as long as I can remember. (Yes, I’m a geology nerd, too). But it’s pretty remote. Even when I was living in Los Angeles, it was definitely too far for a day trip. And I was never able to convince anyone to make a long weekend of it. Though, honestly, I never tried too hard at that.

Luckily, there was a lot more to see in Santorini than just the caldera, and lots more to do. ‘Cause I feel fairly confident in writing that Stacey and Zoe were not as fired up over the caldera (pun intended) as I was.

We took a sunset cruise on Stacey’s birthday, which took us all around the caldera and the adjacent waters of the Aegean Sea. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a quick swim. But it was indeed quick, because the water was too cool to stay in for too long. We went to a tasting at one of the wineries on Santorini. The wines were fantastic, and they were paired with some incredible dishes. My travel companions have some better shots of our meal at the winery—all I have is a few pictures of the little beggar kittens who kept asking for their own tasting, especially of the seafood dishes.

And the food. Everywhere we went in Greece. I don’t consider myself a foodie, and I don’t think I’ve ever posted about my meals (maybe I’ve mentioned the shepherd’s pie at Kitty O’Sheas in Chicago). But I can say I had some of the tastiest octopus ever in Greece. And I’m also now a big fan of moussaka, having tried it for the first time last week. (Looking at pictures and recipes online, there are definite similarities to shepherd’s pie. Guess I’m consistent.)

So I’m back in NOLA now, and very happy to be home. And also exceedingly grateful to have been able to make that trip, and to have those memories of Ελλάδα (that’s Greece written in Greek). 🙂 🇬🇷

Greece, Part 1

Ancient things. That’s what I’ve been thinking about, these past five days spent in Greece. So many ancient things.

New Orleans will celebrate its Tricentennial in 2018. Three hundred years seems pretty minor, compared to the 3,400 of recorded history within Athens (according to Wikipedia). Mykonos had inhabitants before the 11th century BC. Delos, a now-uninhabited island a short boat ride from Mykonos, was inhabited from the 3rd millennium BC.

It was fascinating to tour the ruins on Delos. For roughly 1,000 years before the Greeks deemed it the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, it was a holy sanctuary to the goddess of the earth (according to Maria, our tour guide on Delos).

Certainly, much has changed in the intervening millennia. And much of it in just the past 100 years or so. But I’ve been thinking of all the things about human life that haven’t changed. Our needs, especially. Eating. Drinking, both wine and water. Shelter. Employment, to occupy our days and provide means to the eating and drinking and shelter. Entertainment. Companionship. Worship.

The details have changed, and access to all these things has become much easier for a great many of earth’s inhabitants. But really, it seems not much has changed about the needs themselves. Being a human in the 21st century, who would like to make entertainment her employment, I’ve been intrigued by the story possibilities of all these ancient things.

Like, why does “an ancient evil” sound so much more menacing than just plain old “evil?” I’ve been drawn to all the manifestations of the eye symbol I’ve seen while in Greece. On doorways, gates, on fighter planes I saw on the way to our hotel in Mykonos from the airport. A card I picked up from a gift shop tells me this: that use of the symbol dates back almost 3,000 years, and is supposed to ward off evil and bring the bearer good luck. So, apparently, it’s not just me—people have been worried about the bad gris-gris for a really long time.

Since pictures are worth (at least) 1,000 words, I never intended to get too long-winded with this post. So here are some photos from my time in Greece thus far:

Athens
Mykonos Harbor
Shop window in Mykonos

  

These four pictures are all from Delos
At Kiki’s Tavern on Mykonos
Last sunset in Mykonos

It’s All Greek to Me

I leave for Greece tomorrow. In the past twenty years, I’ve traveled to Europe many times. In the first five or so years of that twenty-year span, I would head across the Atlantic at least twice annually. But the frequency doesn’t diminish the impact. It’s always a big deal to me.

All of these trips, with one notable exception, have been for my job. I might have tacked on some personal travel (at my own expense, natch); but for the bulk of the travel, work was the main reason behind it.

Tomorrow’s trip is pure vacation. The only other time I’ve flown to Europe with no agenda other than sightseeing was in 2002. It was a couple of years after my Dad had died, and my Mom and I went to the U.K. We drove all around Great Britain, and covered a good bit of England (with a couple of forays into Wales and Scotland). I’ll sum it up with this: I’ve been fortunate to have several “trips of a lifetime” in my lifetime thus far, and that trip with Mom was definitely one of them. She’s been gone nearly three years now, and the memories of that U.K. trip only grow sweeter with time.

Greece will be with one of my best friends, Stacey, and her cousin, Zoe. I’m super excited for many reasons—one of the chief reasons being getting to spend time together. Stacey and I became friends when we worked for the E! Networks in Los Angeles. We each left our jobs there many years ago, and I also left Los Angeles many years ago. So I only get to see Stacey during visits. Once a year, if I’m lucky.

Back in the early days of our friendship, Stacey would refer to me as “International Anne.” (I worked in the international sales/marketing department. Thus, all the trips to Europe.) I think these days, Stacey’s international travel has far surpassed mine. Be that as it may, it will be the first visit to Greece for all of us. For the past several months, I’ve paid extra special attention to anything remotely Grecian that’s crossed my path. Here, in no particular order, are a few observations:

  • Star Trek: The Next Generation, Outside In Makes It So: I’ve mentioned this Star Trek: TNG anthology several times, because I have an essay in there (trying to do a better job at self-promotion). The title of that essay? “Time’s Arrow: I Might Be .004% Out of Phase with Plato”. Yes, famed Greek philosopher Plato factors pretty heavily in the piece (but it’s really accessible and easy to read, I promise!) I wrote it long before I knew I’d be traveling to Plato’s old stomping grounds.
  • Greek myths, titans, and gods: I haven’t specifically researched Greek mythology, but any deeper look into the origin of any story always seems to lead to something Greek. I’m working on a sci-fi short story, and in the course of researching some names, I’ve encountered these morsels:
    • Deucalion: He was the son of Prometheus, and, according to Wikipedia, “is closely connected with the Flood myth.” Like a Greek version of Noah.
    • Chiron: Sired by the Titan Cronus, he was an “intelligent, civilized and kind” centaur. He was also immortal. He suffered from a wound that would not heal, so he wasn’t that keen on living forever, so he traded his immortality for the life of Prometheus.
    • Prometheus: Kinda funny how he keeps popping up. Even though Zeus was really, really, pissed at him for stealing fire and giving it to humankind.
  • And to conclude with something completely different: I recently purchased the blouse featured at the top of this post. The blue trimming and the loose fit struck me as appropriate for Greece (and hopefully pretty comfortable for the flight over). But once I got it home, in a fit of buyer’s remorse, perhaps, it also struck me as something Pagliacci wouldn’t be afraid to wear. I’ve had “The Tears of a Clown” in my head ever since.

Quarter Report 2017: Star Trek TNG, Quanta, a New Year, and More

Chicago: I rode the L!

Annnnnnd, we’re back to The Fast and the Furious. I’ve written in these pages at least twice about the character Dom Toretto and his special brand of wisdom. When I first heard Vin Diesel utter the line “I live my life a quarter mile at a time,” I knew I had encountered a bit of cinematic brilliance. Something on the order of Patrick Swayze’s (as Johnny Castle) “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.” Or my own personal muse, John McClane’s “Yippee ki yay, *Mr. Falcon*” (as it appears in the censored version of Die Hard 2.)

Much like Dominic Toretto, I tend to think, and plan, in terms of quarters (yearly quarters, not miles). Discrete, three-month-sized chunks. As I reflect on the third quarter of 2017, I find it’s been pretty eventful. Some of the stuff I’ve written about (the eclipse, our visit to New Smyrna Beach, hurricanes, the release of my novel), but there’s plenty of other stuff I haven’t. Here, in no particular order, are some observations, tidbits, and events that have been swimming about in my particular cosmos in Q3:

  • Star Trek: The Next Generation, Outside In Makes It So releases today! This collection of essays covers every episode of Star Trek: TNG, plus the movies. It’s commemorating the 30th anniversary of the show’s premiere. I’m thrilled that my piece about the episode “Time’s Arrow” is included. You can find the anthology on sale here.
  • More about discrete chunks: While on a recent Internet search into famed physicist Max Planck, I discovered what he is most known for, and it’s this: quanta. Quanta, the root of the term “quantum.” As in quantum physics, quantum theory, Quantum Leap. Planck is credited with the hypothesis that the very nature of nature itself is not continuous, that change occurs in discrete increments. Regarding electromagnetic waves, he termed these discrete packets of energy “quanta.” This discovery earned him the Nobel Prize nearly 100 years ago. All these years of being fascinated and confused by quantum physics, and I’d never thought about the meaning of “quantum” before. And I’m sure some of you who have read this far are hoping you never have to think about the word again.
  • U2: I saw U2 in concert for the first time ever a few weeks ago. They are on tour, promoting the 30th anniversary of “The Joshua Tree” album. (Discrete chunks of thirty years seem to be a theme, here. I also attended my thirty year high school reunion this past quarter). Anyway, U2: during my heavy concert-going years (when I was between fifteen and twenty-five, roughly), I would have definitely bought tickets to see U2, if they had come to my town. (In those years, it was New Orleans and Tucson, Arizona). But they never did. I was glad the band opened the set with really old stuff, songs from “War.” The songs I would have wanted to hear, if our paths had crossed so many years ago. All in all, very worthwhile—plus, Beck opened for them, and he was fantastic.
  • Rosh Hashanah: I’m a little hesitant to write this, since I’m not Jewish, but I really don’t see this as cultural appropriation. I’m Catholic, which is a Judeo-Christian religion, and I’ve always been a bit ecumenical in my practice, anyway. So, Rosh Hashanah—about fifteen years ago, after a particularly rough twelve months (four quarters), I decided to start my new year’s resolutions at Rosh Hashanah. To give them a sort of beta test-run before January. With all this “30-year” backwards staring, I’m grateful that the arrival of Rosh Hashanah last week has me looking forward once again.
  • Chicago: And, oh yeah, I spent four days in Chicago last week with my job. It was a good time to be there, if a bit unseasonably warm. The pictures in this post are from that trip.

Spirit of Music statue, Grant Park
View of Lake Michigan and Adler Planetarium (I think) from Grant Park

 

Going home, connecting in Nashville

On Sale Now!

*Special Tuesday edition!

The Incident Under the Overpass is now available on Amazon! In an attempt at courageous self-promotion, I’ll share some endorsements from early reviews:

“Read It If: you like your supernatural romances set in New Orleans. A delight.” –CravenWild.com

“McClane’s debut novel, set in sultry New Orleans, combines mystery, romance, and a touch of the paranormal…Lacey is an engaging heroine…” -Kirkus Reviews

“Lacey has a wry, self-deprecating narrative voice, enlivened by frequent pop-culture references.” -Kirkus Reviews

“It’s a unique story with great characters and it stands out from many other books in this genre.” –By Hook or By Book
“The backdrop feels familiar enough, but as the pages turn Anne McClane peels away the layers to reveal a tale of intrigue laced with old Louisiana spirit ways.” -Ian McNulty, author of A Season of Night and Louisiana Rambles

And here’s a quick synopsis: When Lacey Becnel awakens under an overpass near her home in New Orleans, she does not yet realize that she’s undergone a profound metamorphosis. Nathan, the dangerously attractive man she discovers at her side, provokes as many questions as answers. As Lacey learns of her emergent abilities, she also finds that nothing will protect her from her growing attraction to Nathan, or his perilous fate.

So here’s the thing about self-promotion–I’ve written in earlier posts (one referenced at the top of this page) how it does not come easily to me. It’s one of the reasons I made sure the review excerpts above are all from people I don’t know personally. Their opinion of the book is not muddied by their opinion of me.

It’s also one of the reasons it’s been so delightful to let After Glows handle the publishing. While I still have a responsibility for promoting my work, it’s no longer all on me.

I’ll conclude with this plug: if The Incident Under the Overpass sounds like a story you might enjoy, I hope you’ll check it out. And if you do, I sure hope the “might enjoy” turns into a “definitely enjoyed.”

*Next week, I’ll return to my regularly-scheduled Wednesday programming. 🙂

Witch Wars by T.A. Moorman

Special Tuesday Edition!*

Witch Wars, by fellow After Glows author T. A. Moorman, releases today! It’s available on Amazon (click this link). Here’s a little more about the book:

Tialanna is fated to become the queen of all Underlayes witches. She thinks the worst part of her life is the fact that she’s betrothed to a complete stranger while in love with someone else. She’s in for a rude awakening when she discovers who, and what, she truly is.

Tialanna is about to learn the truth behind several lies, because not only does her life depend on it, but so does the fate of the family she never even knew she had. But hey, life would probably just be boring if she didn’t have to deal with elemental witches, vampires, demons, sorcerers, bindings, spells, lust and betrayal. Right? 

–This book is intended for mature audiences only. It includes depictions of both graphic violence and graphic sex.–

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

When you become a Mom, you begin to put yourself last, and your combat boots begin to collect dust. Going to your child’s PTA meetings in full Gothic, especially industrial regalia, is pretty much frowned upon. Especially by your own children, and your teens would die of a heart attack. But, one should not have to completely stop being themselves, uniqueness is greatness. So all of that darkness is put into words in her books, and designs in her jewelry sold in her GothicMoms DarkCharms shop.

Mother of five beautiful children, but by far, more than just that. T.A. Moorman is an artist, a violinist, a seamstress, a crafter, a writer, a blogger, a reviewer, a dark confidant and a darkly dangerous, fiercely protective friend.

 

*This week and next, I’ll be posting on Tuesday instead of Wednesday.

Cover Reveal!

I’ve been keeping this under wraps for a little while. But now that the relaunch of The Incident Under the Overpass is less than two weeks away, it’s time to reveal the new cover!

The e-book is available for pre-sale on Amazon, with a delivery date of September 19. For new visitors to this space, here’s the blurb:

It’s been fifteen months since Lacey Becnel’s unfaithful husband suddenly passed away, leaving her to sort through her feelings of anger, love, and loss, and wondering where exactly her place in life should be.

But when she awakens under an overpass near her home, next to Nathan—a man she met just hours before in the streets of New Orleans—she begins a journey of discovery that some might call supernatural. In the days that follow, it becomes clear that Nathan might be the target of a murder plot, and Lacey—somehow—has the power to heal.

The more she becomes embroiled in Nathan’s danger, the more confused Lacey becomes about her feelings for him. Will she ever fully understand her abilities, or will the danger surrounding Nathan bring things to an abrupt end?

And for those of you who’ve been following along, this story—my first novel—was picked up by After Glows Publishing earlier this year. It has been such a pleasure to work with them! This time last year, much like Lacey, I was wondering where exactly my place should be. (In life, not so much; but as an author, yes.)

Writing and publishing are two entirely different endeavors; and there are parts to the work of each that I really enjoy. But ultimately, I want to be able to write stories, and I want to work on improving that skill. With After Glows looking after the publication, I’ve had more time to narrow my focus on just the writing.

I like to think of Lacey as a sensitive, vulnerable woman who is just beginning to understand her strength. And when she realizes its depth, it surprises her. (I think that’s a pretty good description of Lacey through the whole story arc…The Incident Under the Overpass—this book; The Trouble on Highway One—book 2, currently under revision; and the tentatively titled The Epiphany on the Causeway—book 3, which I’ve just begun to write.)

Anyway, I think the Lacey on the new cover really captures both her strength and vulnerability; and she also lets potential new readers know they’re in for an urban fantasy / paranormal romance featuring an unusual supernatural ability.

Thank you, After Glows, for helping to bring Lacey to life!

Birthdays and Hurricanes

A cow that escaped its trailer in my sister’s neighborhood

My birthday was yesterday. It was a little hard to savor the start of another year on planet Earth, due to some personal reasons. All reasons entirely outside my control, and most having to do with said planet and its climate. But having no one person or thing to blame really doesn’t lessen the emotional impact.

Blaming Harvey and what he’s done to Houston won’t accomplish much, because, in the end, he’s just weather. Really horrible, destructive, biblical-type weather, but weather just the same. He might have forced my cousin to evacuate her home south of Houston in an airboat, but it wasn’t weather that came to her rescue. It was the good will and good intentions of human first responders.

My sister, west of downtown Houston, is sheltered in place and waiting to see what effect the release of the Addicks reservoir will have on her home and neighborhood.

And completely separate from the weather and half a world away, there was the loss of a very good chap. On Sunday, Tim and I discovered that one of our good friends had died while on vacation, visiting family in the U.K.

I’m used to forgoing birthday celebrations for things far outside my control. When your birthday falls at the height of the hurricane season, you get used to altering plans.

While watching everything unfold in Texas, it’s hard not to recall what happened in New Orleans, on my birthday, twelve years ago. Tim and I were in Shreveport, Louisiana, with a sizeable chunk of his family at Sam’s Town Casino. (That’s where we had evacuated to.)

Just as we’ve done this week, we watched from afar as the catastrophe unleashed. I distinctly remember watching the news on Monday, August 29, 2005, after Katrina had come ashore, and thinking that New Orleans might have escaped the worst of it. It was either that night or the next morning that we received the news of the levee breaches.

I can’t remember precisely what my immediate plans were supposed to be back then. Tim and I had anticipated being back in New Orleans in about three days time, I remember that much. And returning to the normal routine of our lives. Instead, we made it back very slowly, spending the first week of September in Baton Rouge, then the rest of the month outside New Orleans in Metairie, the suburb where we were both raised.

We were back into our 2nd floor apartment across from City Park in early October, as I recall. (Miraculously, the apartment building was like an island in a vast sea, and never flooded).

I didn’t mean for this post to turn into “Katrina memory time.” And I by no means intend to play compare and contrast. My thoughts and prayers and heart go out to all the people in Houston, my family included, plain and simple. I hope they will accept whatever service I can offer, that would be most useful to them.

The lesson that was so forcefully delivered to me on my birthday twelve years ago was to not take anything in this life for granted. It’s a lesson I hold close, and it’s a lesson that the losses of these past few days have highlighted in garish colors.

The Great American Eclipse: One Minute in Murfreesboro

1:28 pm versus 1:29 pm. That’s Venus on the upper right.

So, I had the rare opportunity to witness Monday’s total solar eclipse. I traveled with a friend more than 500 miles northeast of our homes in New Orleans to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, just south of Nashville.

I had noticed early on in my research that The Volunteer State was referring to this celestial event as “The Great Tennessee Eclipse.” I’m not sure how the other states hosting the total eclipse felt about this appropriation. But for my part, I thought Tennessee put on a pretty good show.

We found ourselves in Murfreesboro because it was the only place in the greater Nashville area that had a hotel room at a non-extortionary rate. In digging around the Internet, I discovered that Murfreesboro not only houses the affordable and clean Candlewood Suites, it is also home to Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). I thought a University might be a good place to catch an eclipse.

Turns out, NASA must have thought so, too, because MTSU was “an official NASA viewing site for the greater Nashville area.” Their eclipse event was held on a big lawn on the campus, ringed by a new science building, older science buildings, and the library. They had set up a stage, with musical acts from a student-run record label (Nashville is Music City, after all). The buildings were open to the public, in case the viewers might want to escape the pre-eclipse heat. They had telescopes set up around the lawn, and big screens showing the eclipse in real time.

And about an hour before total eclipse time, faculty from the Physics and Astronomy department took over the stage and talked about the science of eclipses, and invisible parts of the sun’s atmosphere that become visible, and lots of other cool stuff. I liked that there were professionals, who knew what they were talking about, commentating to the crowd.

When the light started to dim, they pointed out that Venus had become visible in the Southern sky. When totality finally arrived, they instructed when it was okay to remove the special solar eyewear, and look directly at the sun. And when that minute had passed, when we needed to put our special eyeglasses back on.

But here’s the thing about that minute, that minute of eclipse totality. (Totality was longer in other places, but a minute is what we got in Murfreesboro. I’ll take it.) I can honestly state that I’ve seen nothing else in nature to compare it to.

While corresponding with Husband Tim around the time of the eclipse, I wrote: “Can’t describe it.” To which he responded: “You’re a writer.”

Touché. My response back? “Can’t describe it YET.”

Herewith my attempt: there are the pictures at the top of this post, showing the difference in the light. And there are words: incredible, awesome, amazing – all overused, and thus, lacking in true descriptive power. Awe-inspiring and phenomenal do a slightly better job. But still not adequate.

The word that most closely describes the experience for me? It’s gestalt. The German word, which I’ve always taken to mean things coming together to become something greater, greater than just the sum of their parts.

The extreme rarity of the event, the appearance of the night sky at 1:30 in the afternoon, the drop in temperature, and just looking up and seeing a black hole where the sun should be – these all came together to create a very intimate and transcendent moment. Imbued with personal meaning beyond all the mechanics at play.

During totality, and for a few moments after, fireflies lit up around the base of the tree where we stood. I remember seeing fireflies at my father’s camp in the woods when I was very young. Back during a time when I was much closer to magic, and fantasy, and the surreal.

Before Monday, I couldn’t have told you the last time I saw fireflies. All of this gives me the feeling that maybe magic, and fantasy, and the surreal were never really that far away after all. It’s making the time to look for them that remains a top challenge.