Month: October 2019

Author Essentials Part 2: Email

What essentials you need for branding as an author. From Story Empire.

Story Empire

Good morning to all of the SE readers, this is P. H. with more author essentials for you today. These posts are mainly geared toward newer authors, but those who have been at it for a while may find these helpful as well. New authors will not always ask what they need beyond their writing to help themselves and that’s where this series is meant to help. Domains were discussed in part one of the series. You can read about that previous post here, and I hope it will help you get up to speed on this series. That post focused mainly on where you should start building your author brand. The choice of a domain is where you should begin, but there are two other details on which you should focus, the next one being your email address. It’s important to understand that you need to plan these…

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“Something Wicked” Friday with Mae Claire and Cursed Places

By the pricking of our thumbs, something wicked this way comes.

It’s the final day of the Something Wicked Tour with the authors at Story Empire. You can find the entire schedule for the day at Story Empire. Please take a few minutes to visit each stop, enjoy the post, then comment and share on your social media or re-blog on your site. Today, I’m please to host Mae Claire who digs into curses in relation to her fiction – enjoy!

Do You Believe in Curses?

Thanks for hosting me today, P.H.! It’s fun to be here with your readers kicking off my final stop of Story Empire’s Something Wicked Blog Tour. Wow, the week really blew by! I hope everyone has enjoyed the tour as much as I have. The posts my SE colleagues have been sharing are excellent

For my part, I’ve discussed the Mothman, Spiritualism of the late 1800s, haunted houses, and an alien encounter. To close things out I’m moving into a human element. One that brings frightened glances over the shoulder and slickly mounting terror­—the fear of a curse.

From literature to the Bible, to famous objects and haunted places, curses abound. There are cursed objects (the Hope Diamond) cursed places (King Tut’s Tomb), cursed movies (Poltergeist) even cursed performances (multiple instances of the play MacBeth). But what about a town? Is it possible for an entire town to be cursed and to carry that misfortune through centuries?

My Point Pleasant series has been a blend of fiction, folklore and history. In book one, A Thousand Yesteryears, I introduced readers to the Mothman and examined the Silver Bridge tragedy from a fictional perspective. Book two, A Cold Tomorrow, is populated by Men in Black, UFO encounters, flicker phenomena, and a mysterious visitor who is far more than he appears.

Much of Point Pleasant folklore is tied to a curse cast by Shawnee Indian Chief, Cornstalk. A friend to the settlers in the area that would become Point Pleasant, Cornstalk arrived at the settlement in 1777 to warn them of an impending attack from tribes massing along the Ohio River. Cornstalk was detained and later killed, along with his son. According to legend, he cursed the town as he lay dying.

Native American with headdress and drawn bow on horse, silhouetted against evening sky

“I was the border man’s friend. Many times I have saved him and his people from harm. I never warred with you, but only to protect our wigwams and lands. I refused to join your paleface enemies with the red coats. I came to the fort as your friend and you murdered me. You have murdered by my side, my young son. For this, may the curse of the Great Spirit rest upon this land. May it be blighted by nature. May it even be blighted by its hopes. May the strength of its peoples be paralyzed by the stain of our blood.”

Is the curse real? Point Pleasant has suffered multiple tragedies, including:

A fire that took out an entire block in the late 1880s

A mine collapse in 1907 that claimed the lives of 31 miners, making it the worst coal mine disaster in American history

Devastating floods spanning several decades, two of which (in 1913 and 1937) almost wiped out the town

The collapse of the Silver Bridge in 1967, a tragedy that claimed 46 lives and still ranks as the worst bridge collapse in American history

The loss of river trade and closing of the town’s major employer, resulting in an economic downturn from which Point Pleasant still struggles to recover

In A Desolate Hour, the final book of my Point Pleasant series, new and returning characters rush to determine whether or not Cornstalk’s curse is at fault for releasing an ancient malevolence. Drawn by that evil, the Mothman reacts with deadly retribution.

Best enjoyed after the first two books in the series, A Desolate Hour can also be read as a standalone novel.

Banner ad for A Desolate Hour by Mae Clair features Man standing in a dark mysterious forest with bloody lake in foreground


Sins of the past could destroy all of their futures . . .

For generations, Quentin Marsh’s family has seen its share of tragedy, though he remains skeptical that their misfortunes are tied to a centuries-old curse. But to placate his pregnant sister, Quentin makes the pilgrimage to Point Pleasant, West Virginia, hoping to learn more about the brutal murder of a Shawnee chief in the 1700s. Did one of the Marsh ancestors have a hand in killing Chief Cornstalk—the man who cursed the town with his dying breath?

While historian Sarah Sherman doesn’t believe in curses either, she’s compelled to use her knowledge of Point Pleasant to uncover the long-buried truth. The river town has had its own share of catastrophes, many tied to the legendary Mothman, the winged creature said to haunt the woods. But Quentin’s arrival soon reveals that she may have more of a stake than she realized. It seems that she and Quentin possess eerily similar family heirlooms. And the deeper the two of them dig into the past, the more their search enrages the ancient mystical forces surrounding Point Pleasant. As chaos and destruction start to befall residents, can they beat the clock to break the curse before the Mothman takes his ultimate revenge? . . .


Connect with Mae Clair at BOOKBUB and the following haunts:

Amazon | BookBub | Newsletter Sign-Up
Website | Blog | Twitter | Goodreads | All Social Media

bio box for author Mae Clair

Thanks for reading Mae’s post today. Please leave your thoughts in the comments section and we’ll respond as soon as possible. Also, please share this post on social media or re-blog it. Here’s the schedule for the remainder of the tour stops today:

“Something Wicked” Thursday with Staci Troilo and World-Building

By the pricking of our thumbs, something wicked this way comes.

Welcome again to the Something Wicked Tour from the authors at Story Empire. I’m a happy to welcome Staci Troilo to the Thursday edition of the tour here on Archer’s Aim where she’ll be sharing about world-building. For a complete tour schedule for the day, please visit Story Empire and make sure to read all the stops and share on social media or re-blog on your site. Handing off to Staci!

Creating a Story World

Thanks for welcoming me here today, P.H.

The Gate

Ciao, amici! Yesterday in the Story Empire Something Wicked tour, I discussed how science fiction writers can introduce advanced technology in a believable way, using examples from my Astral Conspiracy series (specifically the first book, The Gate).

Today, I’d like to expand the topic and go from specific technologies to story worlds in general.

Every genre requires a certain amount of world-building.

There’s a lot that goes into world-building, and writers need to consider macro- and micro-level details. Focusing on either can really cement the reader in the world.

Macro-Level Details

Plan of the City of Rome MET DP826508

Photo Attribution: Antonio Tempesta [CC0]

This is a section of broad scope and general classifications. Things to consider on the macro-level include cosmic location, land geography, climate, historical development.

If your story is space-based, you’ll need to know the galaxy, the solar system, and the planet or moon (or space station). Once the astronomical details are set, you need to look at the characters’ locations. Space ship? Submarine? On land? Mountain or valley? Urban or rural? Is the locale cold, temperate, or hot? What are the building materials and are they scarce or readily available? Is the civilization in its infancy? At its zenith? On the decline? Is it a barter society or some form of payment (commodities, money, or credit)? What form of government is in charge—king, president, dictator? How technologically-advanced are they? How important is religion—are the people polytheistic, monotheistic, or atheist?

If your story isn’t in the real world, it may help you to draw a map. Remember, even though you created this land, it still needs to comply with natural topological rules. Water runs down mountains and pools in valleys or runs off to oceans. Plains are subject to heavy winds. Rain forests thrive in hot, humid conditions. Study topological maps to get a feel for how land and water coexist on our planet, then create your continent/country accordingly.

At the macro-level, think of a camera far in the distance, taking in the broad vista and panning across the town. Nothing is zoomed in on, but we get a generalized impression of the society as a whole.

Micro-Level Details

This is where we get down to character development.

What does the hero look like? What is his job—blue-collar or white? Where does he live—shack, cabin, apartment, house, mansion? Who are his closest relations—love interest, parents, siblings, friends—and are they good or bad relationships?

To build up the world in this manner, the closer the camera gets, the more a reader will relate. We’re not just learning the hero lives in Pittsburgh, we see he lives in an industrial loft with exposed brick and ductwork in the South Side right on the river. His closet has two distinct sections—suits and ties for work and jeans and t-shirts for everything else. His refrigerator is filled with Moretti LaRossa beer, leftover pizza from Fiori’s, and a huge Tupperware bowl of his mom’s gnocchi that she forced him to take after their weekly Sunday dinner. His flatscreen practically defaults to ESPN, and he has three playlists on his phone—Rat Pack for when family visits, Bruno Mars for dates, and a classic rock/contemporary country blend for everything else.

We don’t have to learn about Pittsburgh politics, Italian-American culture, or nearby churches. Sure, we already know what contemporary life is like in an ethnically-diverse city, so that could be redundant information, anyway. But seeing what this one person is like can reveal not just character, but world details, as well.

I, personally, like to mix the two when I write. And I avoid information dumps. Sure, it would be easy to give two pages of details of land and government and commerce, and maybe another page and a half to description of the character and his loft, but readers don’t want to read that. It’s best to sprinkle those details in gradually so the plot doesn’t slow while giving readers a chance to experience the world.

In my current series, I have eight POV characters in various fields (military, academia, government agency, clergy) and in different cities. They live in the not-so-distant future, so there are some advancements in technology from what we’re used to, but it’s all easy-to-relate-to changes. And, of course, there are the aliens who invade. They’re all over the globe and interact with these characters in various ways. I’ve used religion, ancient lore, and modern technology to develop this story world, and as of right now (the middle of book three), I’ve had characters in three different continents. That’s several different landscapes and governments and cultures to represent.

Hopefully I’ve done them all justice. If you’re interested in seeing how I handled the macro- and micro-level world development, I invite you to read the first book.

The Gate

He lost his job. Lost his girl. Now it’s all he can do not to lose his life.

Landon Thorne is a disgraced archaeologist, a laughing stock in his field because of his unconventional beliefs – he’s an ancient astronaut theorist. No one takes him seriously.

Until an alien armada targets Earth.

Now Landon’s in high demand – by the US government and someone far more sinister.

They race across two continents to the Gate of the Gods, the one place on Earth that might give humans an advantage over the aliens. But no one is prepared for what they’ll find.

And not everyone will make it out alive.

The Gate is the first of five novels in the Astral Conspiracy Series, part of Sterling and Stone’s Invasion Universe.

Universal Purchase Link

Thanks for dropping by for the post today. Please leave your thoughts in the comments section and we’ll respond as soon as possible. Here’s the rest of the tour schedule. Please share this one and then visit the other stops to share those once read them: