Starbuck

The name Starbuck fascinates me. I’ve mentioned in this space before the first time I encountered Starbucks coffee, circa mid-1980s in New York City. (see Ode to the Starbucks on Upstream) For those who remember the 1980s, you’ll know it was a time when the coffee chain was not as ubiquitous as it is today.

I was excited by the name because of Lieutenant Starbuck, the character played by Dirk Benedict in the original Battlestar Galactica. At the time, I thought the name was a great fiction, like Luke Skywalker or Derek Wildstar. (Yes, I’m going full-geek with a Star Blazers reference. One day, I’ll expound upon how influential this animated series has been to me.)

It was probably young adulthood before I realized that Starbuck is a bona fide surname. And then not long after, that a famous fictional character held the name a century before Dirk Benedict suited up in his 70s-era space opera attire. I’m referring, of course, to Starbuck from Moby-Dick. Since I’m now 37% into that tome, I’ll share with you what I’ve discovered about the surname Starbuck.

The Internet tells me there was a renowned whaling family in Nantucket named Starbuck, who likely inspired Melville in naming the first mate of the Pequod. And that the name hails from the village of Starbeck in Yorkshire. Which dates at least as far back as the 1086 Domesday Book, where it appears as Starbok, a name likely derived from the Norse-Viking “Stor-Bokki.” There’s some Internet consensus that “Stor” means great, or large in size. “Bokki” is a little less clear — it either means “man” or “river.”

Whatever it’s supposed to mean, I think it’s pretty cool that Starbuck (or some variation thereof) appears in the Domesday Book. And it kind of blows my mind that almost exactly 900 years later, I see my first Starbucks coffee shop.

Bringing it one step further, I doubt I ever would have made the connection, had it not been an affinity for the name.

Lucky 13

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

Portentous. That’s the word that comes to mind when thinking of this past Sunday, January 20. The Saints played the NFC Championship game in the Superdome, there was a lunar eclipse, or “blood moon,” later that evening, AND Husband Tim and I celebrated our thirteenth wedding anniversary.

First thing that comes to mind, honestly, is that I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for more than three years. I wrote about our tenth anniversary in this post: Notching a Decade. And, the second thing, is that thirteen has never been a big deal to me. Not to make light of it — I get that triskaidekaphobia is a very real thing. Every time I get on an airplane with no row 13, or in an elevator in a building with no apparent 13th floor, I understand that the number inspires a real enough fear in enough people that such decisions get made.

It’s just never been a big deal to me. My feelings are akin to Jim Lovell’s, in one of my favorite movies, Apollo 13. His wife, Marilyn, expresses concern over the number of his mission: “Naturally, it’s 13. Why 13?” she asks. Jim Lovell’s reply: “It comes after 12, hon.”

The same thing goes for eclipses. I’m fascinated by the synchronized timing and alignment of these giant celestial bodies, and the tricks they play on us earth dwellers (click here for my observations of fireflies during a solar eclipse). But I don’t think they herald any particular play of luck: good, bad, or otherwise.

So, I did not feel any particular foreboding ahead of that NFC Championship game. Tim and I were there together, as part of our anniversary celebration. Our spirits, and optimism, were high. Yet, the Saints lost, in a particularly painful fashion. (A missed call by game officials in the last minutes of regulation play turned the tide against us.) For those not in New Orleans, let’s just say, to qualify the loss as heartbreaking is a grand understatement.

In retrospect, do I think the number of years we’ve been married, or the red moon, had any impact on the unfortunate turn of events for the Saints? No. I didn’t pre-game, and I still don’t. But as a fiction writer, these are the types of noteworthy details that add compelling dimension to any conflict.

And for the record, if I was writing this story, the Saints would have won. 😦

First Chapter on Soundcloud! (And here, too)

So, a few weeks ago, I wrote about my appearance on WRBH Reading Radio (link here). That appearance is now up on Soundcloud (link here). Two disclaimers:

  • It opens with a reading of the first chapter of The Trouble on Highway One, which contains a bit of singing. Yes, sorry, I do sing for a bit. It’s warbly, but honest.
  • The full recording is close to 30 minutes. After Chapter 1 of TOHO, which takes less than ten minutes, I read the first chapter of The Incident Under the Overpass, and then a bit from Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

And since The Trouble on Highway One is now available on Amazon (link here) and Barnes & Noble.com (link here), I’m not giving anything away by publishing Chapter 1, Part 1 below. It opens with a decades-old mystery that our heroine, Lacey Becnel, gets drawn into.

I’ll publish Chapter 1, Part 2 next week at this time!

1 

South of Cut Off, Louisiana

One summer in the mid-twentieth century

Ga-dunk.

Birdie drove down Louisiana Highway One, the same stretch of highway she’d driven a thousand times before, it seemed. Galliano to Larose in the evening. Larose to Galliano in the morning.

Ga-dunk. She passed over a crosspiece for a bridge over Bayou Lafourche. Ga-dunk, over the other side of the bridge.

The night was complete darkness, no moon, the sky swathed in an inky haze. She’d left the Becnels late, waiting for Mr. Becnel to return home from a business trip.

She imagined the lights from her truck’s headlights were the only lights for miles around.

You are a light for the world. Light your lamp where it shines for everyone.

The actual Bible verse was a little different, she knew. But that was how Momma used to say it to her. When she talked about her gift.

Birdie smiled wistfully. She still missed her mother. But she still felt her with her.

She missed Momma, but she didn’t feel empty. Just like she’d never felt empty about Daddy. Her father—the source of her gift—had died when she was very young. Barely old enough to remember him. But he had passed on his traiteur ability to his little daughter, just learning to move in the world. It was Momma, and her brother, Ronnie, who had taught her the lengths, and the limits, of her ability. But Daddy always seemed present, especially in Momma’s and Bubba’s memories.

Now it was her mother who seemed present. Right now. She thought of Ronnie, and was glad she had just seen him recently. She thought of young Cecil, his precious son. A young man, now. Several years older than she was when Daddy passed the gift to her.

She reached for the radio dial. She’d reached the spot on the highway where she could pick up the radio station in New Orleans. And she was in luck, they were playing one of her favorites. “Amazing Grace.”

She looked to her empty passenger seat and imagined Momma sitting right there. They would sing together.

Birdie hummed along, until the last passage. Then she sang aloud, her voice like salted honey. A warm, earthy, resonant note.

“When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise, than when we first begun.”

Birdie didn’t see the man standing in the road until it was too late. Too late for her.

 

 

October Surprise

So, October 30 snuck up on me. October 30, yesterday, was the release day for my second novel, The Trouble on Highway One. I had intended to do more pre-promotion than I did. Send out an email blast. Take out more Facebook ads. Update the front page of this website. Alas, the best laid plans…

However, while my publicity efforts may be a tad lacking, or, at the very least, a tad behind; I feel the opposite way about the story itself. I’m very excited to get it out there, I feel it’s absolutely ready for the world. I had in my head that I did not want to push its release past October; and all my writing, editing and re-writing efforts were aimed toward that goal. So it made it on the last Tuesday in October.

Kind of like how I wanted to finish the last marathon I ran in under four and a half hours. I ran it in 4:29:29.

And speaking of running, I’m compelled to bring up Haruki Murakami. I just read an article that quoted the famed novelist (and avid runner). At an event in New York, just a few weeks ago, he shared his thoughts on what he could do—what he could offer—in light of all the suffering constantly around us.

He concluded that he could write good stories:

“…I thought, ‘What I can do is to write good fiction.’ After all, when I write a good story, good fiction, we can understand each other if you are a reader and I’m a writer. There is a special secret passage between us, and we can send a message to each other.”

I am by no means comparing myself, or my stories, to Murakami. Or even claiming that my fiction is “good” by his measure. But I am eager to share this latest story I’ve written. If for no other reason than the chance to provide some entertainment or diversion to those in need of it.

Happy Halloween, y’all!

Cover Reveal!

I’m very excited to reveal the cover of my second novel, The Trouble on Highway One! I’m working to make it available for pre-sale on Amazon, and I hope to accomplish this in the next few days. Once I do this, I’ll announce its release date (I’m aiming for October 30).

Here’s what I have for the blurb, so far:

Things are looking up for recent widow Lacey Becnel. A short-term job assignment on California’s beautiful Central Coast, and a new love interest fill her days after a tumultuous summer. But as she discovers more about the mysterious traiteur power bestowed upon her, she will learn that she is not the only one with potent, supernatural abilities.

I’ll have more details next week!

Distant Worlds

Hello, dear readers! This is a departure from the regularly-scheduled content in this space. (If you’ve figured out what the regularly-scheduled content is, could you please let me know?)

I’m taking part in a science fiction / fantasy giveaway and book fair that begins today, and I want to spread the word. Read on for all the details. Good luck, and see you next week!

DISTANT WORLDS

Science Fiction & Fantasy Giveaway

August 1-21

Enter for Your Chance to Win!

https://bookwrapt.com/distant-worlds-giveaway/

Love science fiction, fantasy, and romantic F/SF? How would you like to win an ebook prize pack where YOU choose the books YOU want to win and read from Amazon? Enter and you could take home one of four ebook prize packs, a Kindle Fire 7, or Amazon gift card.

Sponsored by these 36 authors:

Anne Kane • Anne McClane • Aurora Springer • Calinda B • Candace Sams • Cara Bristol • Carol Van Natta • Christine Myers • Crystal Dawn • Cynthia Sax • Debra Jess • Edward Hoornaert • EG Manetti • Emmy Chandler • Eva Caye • Genevieve St-Yves • Jessie Kwak • Jon Del Arroz • Karina Kantas • Kayelle Allen • Kristine Smith • Lea Kirk • Lexi Post • Linda Mooney • Livia Quinn • Monica Enderle Pierce • Pauline Baird Jones • Regine Abel • Sarah Marsh • Shona Husk • Stephanie West • Susan A. Royal • Tiffany Roberts • Tonya Cannariato • Vicki Stiefel • Wesley Britton

And while you’re there, check out our Distant Worlds Book Fair for best-selling and highly-reviewed ebooks on sale, FREE exclusive downloads, and a $15 Amazon bonus giveaway!

https://bookwrapt.com/distant-worlds-fair/

Just A Minor Malfunction

While the title of this post could refer to some daily happenings in my life, it doesn’t. It’s the title of a science fiction anthology, where my stories have had the privilege of appearing. The fourth issue is available now on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CHCXPQQ

“The Holo-Spa,” a story I penned last year, is included in this issue. A few notable things about “The Holo-Spa”:

  • It takes place on the same space station featured in “Lucky Eight,” my short story that appeared in Just A Minor Malfunction Issue #2 (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01NA9QRAY/ref=series_rw_dp_sw)
  • It’s the first piece of fiction I’ve written (in recent memory) in the first person
  • First “person” POV is kinda stretching it, because it’s written from the POV of a plasma-energy-type-of-being

I’d like to give a big shout-out to Michael Alter (on Twitter: @Michael_S_Alter ), the writer and editor behind Just A Minor Malfunction. This is my third time working with him, and it’s always a pleasure. His dedication and vision regarding this anthology are worthy of emulation, and his editorial feedback is always top-notch.

You know, every day of my writing life, giving up is always an option. An option that’s a little too close for comfort. It would be so easy to give in to the annoying internal voice that asks me why I’m pouring so much of myself into an effort that yields absolutely no immediate results. (That part of me always looking for the easy button). Working with other writers like Michael, and having my stories included in an anthology like JAMM, are a real power boost that help me play the long game.

After all, I never paid much attention to my “easy button” voice anyway, (even when I probably should have!)

 

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!