When Imagination Becomes Reality “Spirits of the Heart” by Claire Gem #EggcerptExchange @gemwriter

When Imagination Becomes Reality

Or vice versa. In the writing of my latest release, Spirits of the Heart, I had a very creepy event occur that literally stalled the completion of the book for over eighteen months.

In June of 2015, I was in the middle of crafting my new supernatural suspense, set on the grounds of an abandoned mental asylum in the town where I grew up—Middletown, N.Y., USA. My sister, who is also my bestie as well as my cover designer, spent the day with me driving around the old campus. She still lives in Middletown. Terri took photos for the cover and book trailer while I spun tales in my head about what would happen next in my novel. One building in particular, Talcott Hall, called to me.

Although it was surrounded by eight-foot tall chain link fence, we spent most of our time there, near the old building that has been closed since the early 1970s. It had served as the “maximum security” unit—the one reserved for the most disturbed, the most violent of patients. Of course, this is where the ghosts in Spirits of the Heart would be trapped, begging my hero and heroine to free them.

Two weeks later, when I was back home in Massachusetts, I saw a Facebook post from a friend saying, “There’s smoke over the Middletown Psych Center.” In panic, I called Terri.

“Yes,” she confirmed, “it’s Talcott Hall.” The building burned to the ground.

For over a year, my “muse” went on strike. It seemed no matter what I did, I couldn’t write another word on my book. I had known how the story ended (or thought I had), and had already written almost have of the novel. But I was so heartbroken that the building, my inspiration, was gone, I just couldn’t write about it.

Until I figured out a way to weave the fire into the story. I contacted one of the firemen, Nick Elia, and gained permission to use some of his fantastic pictures of the blaze in my trailer. And on February 14, 2017, I released Spirits of the Heart, the second of my Haunted Voices novels.

Blurb:

An addiction counselor and a security guard struggle to free a little girl and her father, two lost spirits trapped inside an abandoned mental asylum.

Addiction counselor Laura Horton returns from college to move in with an old friend and start her career. But her homecoming is jarring. Her friend moves out, leaving Laura alone with the gorgeous but intimidating ex-boyfriend—in a house that snugs up to an ancient graveyard.

Officer Miller Stanford is a man with a shattered past. His alcoholic dad destroyed their family, a weakness Miller is terrified will consume him too. The last thing he needs is a sexy, blonde addiction counselor watching his every move. When he begins to see specters in the dark, he starts questioning his own stability.

But Laura sees her too—a pathetic child-spirit searching for her father. When Laura starts digging into old asylum records, the eerie events escalate . . . Can Miller and Laura uncover the secrets of Talcott Hall without jeopardizing their love—and lives—in the process?

Claire Gem Bio:

Claire is a multi-published, award winning author of emotional romance—sexy contemporary, supernatural suspense, and women’s fiction. She writes about strong, resilient women who won’t give up their quest for a happy-ever-after—and the men lucky enough to earn their love. No helpless, hapless heroines here. These spunky ladies redefine romance, on their terms.

Her supernatural suspense, Hearts Unloched, won the 2016 New York Book Festival. Her rock star contemporary, The Phoenix Syndrome, won the women’s fiction division in FCRWA’s The Beacon Contest.

A New York native, Claire has lived in five of the United States and held a variety of jobs, from waitress to bridal designer to research technician—but loves being an author best. She and her happily-ever-after hero, her husband of 38 years, now live in central Massachusetts.

You can find out more about Claire and her work here:
Website: http://www.clairegem.com
Amazon Author Page: http://www.emotionalcontemporaryromance.com

Buy Links:
Createspace: https://www.createspace.com/6899776
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2jt6k1p
Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2lISxrn
Book Trailer: http://bit.ly/1QreCAY

Excerpt

“Hey. Little girl. Let me help you,” Miller tried again, and the child finally lowered her hands. She was younger than he’d first thought—ten, maybe. Tears streaked her reddened cheeks, glistening in the beam of his headlights. Her pale, golden hair was baby fine and wispy, but tousled and disheveled. As though it hadn’t seen a brush in good long time.

She met his gaze with eyes like the man’s, clear and blue and strangely luminescent. The sadness Miller saw behind them made his chest ache.

“Where did your friend go, sweetheart? The man who came out with you. Where did he go?”

She stared at him with lips quivering before her face crumpled again. “I don’t know. I don’t know where Daddy is. I’ve been looking and looking for him. Every time I think I’ve found him, he goes away.”

Miller swallowed. Yeah, that’s one way to describe the mysterious vanishing act.

He drew in a breath and tried again. “What’s your name, sweetie? Was that your daddy with you?”

Head bobbing, the tears flowed freely now, and she wouldn’t take her eyes off Miller’s face. He felt a lump growing in his own throat, as though she was somehow transferring her pain to him. His hands, clasped in front of him, began to shake.

When she spoke again, her voice took on an echoed quality, as though she were receding into an empty culvert. “I’m Greta. And I’m looking for my daddy. He used to live here. But I keep coming back to find him, and nobody knows where he is.” She dropped her chin to her chest and ground her knuckles against her eyes.

“Greta,” he repeated, a stab of pity piercing his gut. So freaking pathetic. A forlorn little girl . . .his own memories rose up like foul-smelling steam. Swallowing hard, he pressed on. “Greta, honey, what’s your last name?”

When she looked up, Miller gasped. Behind her, against the fence, a bright red McDonald’s French fry box clung to the base of the chain link. Directly behind her, yet he could see it clearly. That’s when he realized he could see .  . .right . . .through her.

 

~ Turning forty is rough ~ “The Phoenix Sydnrome” by Claire Gem @gemwriter

The Phoenix Syndrome
Blurb: Turning forty, for research technician Lannie Marvin, is rough. It’s the day she discovers her husband is leaving her. At work, a crazed mouse brutally bites her. Lannie snaps. phoenix-syndrome_13_sizedShe heads off to chase the object of her newest crush, drummer of a heavy metal band—and an old dream of composing music.
Tristan Allard, said drummer, holds a benefit concert every year in memory of his wife. The musician is beginning to doubt his ability to write music without her inspiration. Plus, he’s damn lonely. So when a sexually charged woman literally plows into him at the backstage reception, Tristan is ready to learn more about her—and her long-buried interest in musical composition.
This new chance at life and love has them both euphoric, but reality bites back. Tristan is headed back to the UK to audition his latest album. And Lannie soon learns an elevated libido isn’t the only side-effect of that experimental drug.
It’s a musician’s worst nightmare—the drug Lannie was exposed to have rendered the mice deaf.
Excerpt:

I don’t quite know how to describe the concert. I can say it was as stimulating visually as it was to my ears. The band—four guys and a girl—all had hair longer than mine, which was well past my shoulders. All except for the keyboardist, whose head was shaved, although he sported a long, red beard parted into two straggly plaits. I wondered how he kept them from tangling with the keys. The girl who sang vocals had inky hair hanging in strings to her shoulders, and she wore a black leather bustier that laced up the front. Well, almost laced. In truth, the garment left little to the imagination.

But then there was the drummer. If not for the overhead monitors panning in for close-ups during the performance, I might never have known he existed. What a travesty that would have been.

In a word, he was . . . magnificent. He sat like a king on his throne at the elevated rear of the stage, sparkling silver-flake drums surrounding him like loyal minions. The monitor directly over our seats focused on him often, so close and so clear I could see the sweat glistening on sculpted upper arms, bare beneath a black muscle shirt stretched taut across a broad chest. Some sort of ink crawled over one bicep. A black-and-white paisley bandanna covered most of his head, but long, dark curls framed his face and clung damp against his neck. His facial hair, limited to a sparse mustache and goatee, was chocolate brown. I indulged in the fantasy that his eyes were that same sweet, smoldering color.

His passion for his work was palpable. Hands flying, head bobbing, he was completely engrossed, as if the music were a drug he was tripping on. His hooded eyes gave him the look of a sleepy lover, but when he did open them, I could swear he was gazing directly at me.

Looking back on that night, I can’t be sure how long we’d sat there before I fixated on my drummer boy. The music, which at first grated on my senses as way too loud and completely discordant, gradually began to permeate my brain. Before long, my bare toes started tapping against the carpeted floor. I freed one hand from my cup of wine to pat my thigh in time with the music. When my head began to bob, almost of its own accord, I smiled.

Ah, now I know why they call progressive metal fans head bangers.

The next hour and a half went by so quickly I might have slipped into a time warp. At one point I wondered if my cup of nine-dollar wine was laced with something mind-altering and illegal. I began to dig the music. I was actually enjoying the concert.

But before I’d seen nearly enough of my chocolate king behind the drums, the stage went black and the lighting came up. The band did not return for an encore. My first heavy progressive experience had come to an end.

I blinked in the sudden brightness, dazed for a moment, like I’d woken from a dream. Jeri was struggling with the strap of her shoe, her other hand braced against her forehead as though she had a massive headache. Grommet guy, too impatient to wait for the two elders beside him to vacate the aisle, vaulted easily over the backs of the seats into the row in front of us and disappeared into the crowd.

I’d almost forgotten my own young progeny—a son and a nephew—were in the same building.

We reunited on the sidewalk fifteen minutes later. The rain had ceased, leaving the city gleaming under the streetlights, clean and brand new.

Somehow, I felt that way too. Clean and brand new.

We were climbing into my brother’s SUV, Paul at the wheel with Jeri and Jay next to him in the front. I sat squashed between my husband and son in the back. Jeri’s head immediately dropped to Paul’s shoulder. I knew she’d be asleep before we got onto the West Side Highway.

I so wanted to do the same, and cuddle against my husband. But he’d said barely a meaningful word to me all evening. I sighed, dropped my head back against the seat, and closed my eyes.

“So, what did you guys do for all that time?” Ryan asked.

“We saw Dreamwish,” Paul piped up from the front, sounding as though his statement actually made sense.

“You saw our concert? You guys?” Jay sputtered through his laughter.

I opened my eyes to find my son staring at me in much the same way Jeri had been earlier.

“How’d you like it, Mom?” Ryan asked in a slight singsong of ridicule, which I chose to ignore.

I caught my brother watching me in the rearview mirror. He was wearing an impish grin. “For a while there,” he said, “we were afraid your mother might run off with one of the roadies.”

The next words popped out of my mouth before my brain had a chance to stop them.

“To hell with the roadies. If I run off, it will definitely be with the yummy drummer.”

Shocked silence extinguished all laughter, and I peeked up to see four pairs of owlish eyes fixed on me.

“Go to sleep,” Karl snarled under his breath. “You’ve had too much to drink.”

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Author Bio:
Claire writes emotional romance. Her heroes are hot, her heroines strong and brave: a combination lighting the spark to fan the flames of your most intense romantic fantasies. Claire’s characters are human—they make mistakes, get clumsy sometimes, and they’re not too proud to laugh at themselves and each other.
claire_2522-copyShe writes in contemporary and paranormal romance, as well as women’s fiction. Claire’s books are like a thrill ride at a theme park. Whether it’s spooky-scary, angst-ridden relationships filled with gut-wrenching turmoil, silly chuckle moments, or face-fanning sex, Claire guarantees to take you on an emotionally intense romantic journey.

Buy Links:

The Phoenix Syndrome
Trailer: http://bit.ly/2bpRSqG
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2bIMkHJ
A Taming Season: A Love at Lake George Novel
Trailer: http://bit.ly/1RCcQeU
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1UwbK9d
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2a2CSda
Hearts Unloched (Winner 2016 New York Book Festival)
Trailer: http://bit.ly/1T8Vzzz
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1TkE8fv
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2ag8oHG
Phantom Traces
Trailer: http://bit.ly/1EIj4IY
Amazon: http://amzn.to/19OUERc