In the mood to curl up with a good book? How about seven? The entire Mae Martin Series is on sale through December 16th. The Calling is free, Shaman’s Blues is $2.99, and the rest of the books in the series are $3.99 each. If you haven’t caught up with all seven, this is a great time to do it.
I set myself a goal to complete five short stories and get them revised and sent out for critique by November. I’ve somewhat polished three, finished a very rough first draft of the fourth, and have the outline for the fifth.
Writing these stories is forcing me to examine emotional depths within the tight plots of short fiction. It’s my job as a fiction writer to make my characters’ lives difficult. To test them and to explore how they can come out stronger. In some ways, doing this in short works is harder than developing a character arc over the expanse of a long, complex novel. I’m enjoying the work, though. It’s been a chance to reunite with characters I haven’t seen for a while and integrate their personal journeys with those of my protagonists.
Will Baca and Letitia Westover-Brown from Ghost Sickness are featured in the first story. They’re trying to make a go of honest work and an honest relationship, but then someone sends Will a strange gift, and they need Jamie as a healer and Mae as a psychic to solve to mystery.
The next story takes place at the college fitness center where Mae works. No visits with “old” characters here. She finds herself with a new enemy, one who could undermine her future career.
The third story brings back Kyle and Vaughan from Shadow Family and Rex from Death Omen as well as Mae’s stepdaughters. I loved working on it, a project that made me rediscover pre-pandemic Truth or Consequences, as the twins attempt to plant a trivia mystery for Vaughan to solve. Another mystery emerges as a consequence, and the girls want Mae to find out the truth.
The fourth story centers around Montana Chino, a character from Ghost Sickness. She and her sisters, Melody and Misty, have planned a thirtieth birthday surprise for Mae, and then Montana, a hotel housekeeper, gets a much bigger surprise in a tip envelope at work. A tip that could change her life in more ways than one when Mae’s psychic inquiry brings up answers Montana wasn’t looking for.
I haven’t decided if the fifth story is more of romance or a mystery, as Mae and Jamie attend two weddings almost back to back, one in T or C and one in Santa Fe. (Trivia question: What happened in New Mexico in 2013 that would cause this to happen?)
Yes, it’s still 2012 and 2013 in these stories. (The Calling is set in 2009-2010.) I’m moving along. But so far, I can’t skip any part of my characters’ lives. They want me know what they’ve lived through, so I’ll understand them better for the next book.
A missing father. A mother with a secret. A professor who might be a shaman—or a fraud. As Mae discovers her gift of “the sight,” she overturns her own life and the lives of those around her.
A gifted musician disappears. A questionable seer vanishes, to Santa Fe or another dimension. Finding two missing people proves easier for Mae than learning the truth about either—or getting one of them, once found, to go away again.
Musician Jamie Ellerbee needs Mae’s psychic aid. His tour is being trailed by bad luck, an anonymous fan, and a strange new friend—who may not be a friend after all.
No murder, just mystery. Every life hides a secret, and love is the deepest mystery of all.
Three full-length e-books for $5.99.
The sixth Mae Martin Psychic Mystery
Trouble at a psychic healing seminar proves knowing real from fraud can mean the difference between life and death.
At an energy healing workshop in Santa Fe, Mae Martin encounters Sierra, a woman who claims she can see past lives—and warns Mae’s boyfriend he could die if he doesn’t face his karma and join her self-healing circle. Concerned for the man she loves, Mae digs into the mystery behind Sierra’s strange beliefs. Will she uncover proof of a miracle worker, or of a trickster who destroys her followers’ lives?
The Mae Martin Series
No murder, just mystery. Every life hides a secret, and love is the deepest mystery of all.
To welcome new readers to the Mae Martin series, the first book, The Calling, is free through the end of November, and so is the series prequel, The Outlaw Women. My horror short story Bearing, based on Apache myths, is also free this month.
Once in a while, I like to recycle an older post that new subscribers may not have seen. This post from the winter of 2015 is a short summary of what I’ve discovered so far, from both reading and experience, as a novelist incorporating the use of crystals in my books.
When I researched energy healing, I easily found twenty-six articles in the archives of just one peer-reviewed medical journal. In another, I found a meta-analysis of healing studies, including those done with subjects other than “whole humans”—healing done on animals, plants, and cell cultures, which are presumed not to experience placebo effects. A number of years ago, I read a study on Qi Gong done in China with pigs as the targets of healing by emitted chi. I can’t remember what their malady was, but I recall that they improved at a statistically significant level. Healers have measurably affected fungi, seeds, plants and mice. When researching the use of crystals in healing, I looked for a similar level of scientific investigation and couldn’t find it. However, I found anthropological literature on the subject as well as modern books on crystals. My reading gave me the impression that the primary use of crystals historically has been for strengthening psychic ability rather than for healing.
In North and South America and in Australia, shamans have used quartz crystals to enhance their ability to see into spirit worlds and other places and times, as well as into a sick person’s body. For example, Navajo crystal gazers use quartz crystals perceive the nature of an illness. One crystal gazer I read about also used his visions to find lost sheep and lost children. In Australian Aboriginal traditions, quartz crystals were used to make ritual cuts as part of a shaman’s initiation and sometimes embedded into a finger or under the skin. The crystals also become spirit forms or energy centers in the shaman’s head or belly.
Quartz—sometimes called a “wild stone” or a “live stone” by indigenous people—has the most uses in shamanism, but other stones have been seen as powerful. In ancient Taoist alchemy, jade was considered to enable one to fly up to heaven, which sounds like a shamanic journey. In European folk magic, any clear surface like a mirror or water as well as a crystal could be used for scrying. The Druids are said to have used beryl crystals when seeking visions.
The present-day practice of crystal healing has grown up from a mixture of influences from the East and the West. In the American colonies, European folk healers met Native healers, and their practices began to cross cultures. This blend is the root from which my character Rhoda-Sue Outlaw Jackson’s idiosyncratic folk healing springs. With the introduction of yoga in the West, color symbolism from India relating to the chakra system was integrated with the shamanic use of crystals. In The Calling, when Mae starts working with crystals, a book on this contemporary East-West approach is her primary resource. She uses crystals in both the traditional shamanic way as a seer and in the modern way as a healer.
Practitioners of crystal healing ascribe specific influences to certain stones, referring to effects of their harmonious structures and their unique vibrations or frequencies. Crystals grow; they have a kind of vitality or life force, and yet they are also stable. An interaction is assumed to take place between the vibration of the person being healed and that of the crystal. Skeptics assume that any results are due to the placebo effect, or that hypnosis is somehow involved in healing with crystals. This latter guess makes sense to me. Trance states affecting both healer and patient are part of the shamanic tradition. **
I first encountered crystal healing at the home of some friends in Santa Fe. After running a five-K race, I’d been experiencing pain in my left ankle, which had developed a ganglion cyst. My friend Jon held an enormous clear quartz point and made circles with it over the painful part of my ankle for about twenty minutes. I was skeptical but open-minded, willing to test out his belief that he could help. That was in July 1999. My ankle didn’t hurt again until June 2013. When I went to the foot and ankle doctor in Santa Fe to have the cyst taken care of, I told him this story. We joked about my getting it treated again with another giant crystal, but I wasn’t sure I could get another fourteen years of relief from just any healer, and Jon and his giant crystal had moved away.
When I lived in Norfolk I met a young woman who used crystals in energy healing. I can’t say if they had an actual effect or contributed to a mutual trance, but the sense of lightness and peace I felt from her work was strong.
While preparing to write the Mae Martin series, in addition to reading about crystals I acquired a collection of them to experiment with. Sometimes I’d try leaving different ones next to my bed at night, in the space between the lamp’s curved legs on the bedside table, to see if they affected my dreams. One night I placed sodalite in that spot—it’s supposed to be good for perception and creative expression, among other things—and I dreamed that people were sitting at a bar playing a gambling game with crystals, shaking them like dice and throwing them. I woke up in the morning and reached to the table to get my glasses—and noticed that the blue-and-white stone, which had been a smooth solid oval the night before, was now broken as neatly as if the end had been sliced off with a saw. Sodalite does fracture easily. If any crystal was going to break, this was the one, but I doubt I picked it up and threw it in my sleep, acting out the dream. If I had, I probably would have knocked over the lamp, and I don’t have any history of parasomnias. The stone lay right where I’d left it. Maybe it already had a crack it in and quietly fell apart while I dreamed it was being thrown. This is one of those strange little things that I could explain away, but that’s different from actually explaining it.
Harner, Michael, The Way of the Shaman, Harper, 1990
Benz E and Luckert K, The Road of Life: Report of a Visit by a Navajo Seer, Ethnomedicine II 3/ 4, 1973
Cowan, J. Wild Stones: Spiritual Discipline and Psychic Power Among Aboriginal Clever Men, Studies in Comparative Religion, V. 17 no. 1&2, Winter-Spring, 1985
Permutt, Philip, The Crystal Healer, Cico Books, 2007
Knight, S., Pocket Guide to Crystals and Gemstones, Crossing Press, 1998
* I use the male pronoun because my sources focused on male shamans. Female healers’ and seers’ roles in traditional societies often differ from the men’s.
**If I understand correctly, people in shamanic cultures who use crystals don’t feel the need to differentiate between placebo, trance, and spiritual effects, or between power objects and symbols of power, or between the crystals the shaman carries in his belly or forehead (spirit objects) and the ones in his medicine bundle (physical objects). Their world view is of a whole system, not separated by the veil modern people place between the spiritual and the material.
I know I can’t make the sky rain. It’s like trying to make someone love you. When the right conditions have arrived, the change comes. Sometimes, however, I think it fails to rain when the world is out of balance, and that it takes dancing and meditation, yoga done as rain salutations, people showing compassion and affection and listening to each other with their hearts, to invite rain. Love and care for the earth will call rain. Earlier today, it rained in the alley behind my apartment for one minute. I went for a short walk at sunset, and a massive blue-black cloud was flashing lightning out toward Elephant Butte, revealing the rain as a sheer curtain in each orange flare. I did a little dance, spinning and then running backwards, asking the storm to follow me home. It did, but I don’t take credit.
When I was running in the desert around noon today, I encountered a mule deer. They often look you in the eye before they run. If they even run. We circled a juniper, checking each other out, making eye contact through the branches, then she turned her back to me, did two full springs straight up in the air with a graceful tuck of all four legs, and trotted off. If anything had the power to call the storm, she did. The deer did the rain dance.
Unrelated, but perhaps of interest: The Calling, book one in the Mae Martin series, is on sale for 99 cents on all e-book retail sites through July 21st. If you’ve enjoyed my books, tell a friend. Thanks.
Fellow paranormal mystery author Terri Herman-Ponce did an interview with my protagonist on her web site. I love this idea–interviewing the character rather than the author. Get to know Mae better, in her own words.
We’re on a character interview roll!
Over the weekend, I chatted with Mae Martin. She’s a southerner who loves silliness, hates bullying, and has a very unusual talent for solving mysteries. She’s also the product of Amber Foxx’s imagination, author of The Mae Martin Mysteries.
Mae is an extraordinary character with a very extraordinary way of seeing the world — one that’s very different from us.
Intrigued? Read on for more about Mae Martin and some fascinating mystery reading!
The first Mae Martin psychic mystery
Obeying her mother’s warning, Mae Martin-Ridley has spent years hiding her gift of “the sight.” When concern for a missing hunter compels her to use it again, her peaceful life in a small Southern town begins to fall apart. New friends push her to explore her unusual talents, but as she does, she discovers the shadow side of her visions– access to secrets…
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Should any readers happen to be in this area, I would love to meet you in person. I’ll be signing books and doing a short reading at Book and Table, 120 North Patterson St. in Valdosta, GA on Friday the 14th of April at 7:00 and at noon Sat. the 15th. The bookstore/restaurant is run by one of my favorite authors, J. Michael Orenduff, author of the Pot Thief Mysteries. If you’re an East Coast fan of New Mexico mysteries, come meet both of us.
In Martyn V. Halm’s one-of-a-kind suspense novel, In Pocket, the narrator Wolfgang, a pickpocket, begins to doubts the motives of a young woman who befriends him because her shrines don’t seem authentic. He says that in his observations of women’s homes, they make shrines. He doesn’t mean religious ones but highly personal arrangements of objects that honor special aspects of each woman’s life. When I think of friends’ houses and apartments, the most common shrine is the family pictures shrine, but I’ve seen idiosyncratic ones. I recall a friend who had peacock feathers and other objects arranged around a mirrored dressing stand on the hall landing, her shrine to I know not what, but it had a kind of art deco bordello feeling to it.
Some people’s kitchens are shrines, arranged to honor the gods of nourishment and conviviality. My academic colleagues’ offices are shrines to scholarship, with diplomas and books and journals—but also softened with mini-shrines to family. In my books, I’ve used this kind of imagery—Charlie’s door and office in The Calling are the most vivid example—as a way of revealing character and also implying a mystery. Why do people build the shrines they do?
I have so much meaningful art around me that my whole home is a shrine. And then I look at the clutter, the heap of writing reference books, the heap of journals on alternative medicine, the stack of books and magazines I’m reading, the notes on my work in progress spread on the left side of my desk, and I think—that’s not clutter, those are shrines. Shrines to reading and writing.
When I move to a smaller space, I’ll be parting with slice-of-life shrines, eccentric random gifts with stories behind them. A Roswell NM alien-face paper fan a friend gave me at the Mescalero ceremonies many years ago. A Gumby one of my yoga students gave me. A stuffed toy tree frog. I’ll trust my heart to store the people and memories I echo back to myself with things like these little green creatures. Sooner or later, we all part with everything we own. Practicing non-attachment seems abstract at times, but not when I am taking down my shrines.
I’m a guest today on Lois Winston’s blog, talking about trying to focus despite fragmented time. If you share that frustration, you’re not alone. Stop by the blog and let me know how you handle it.
At the end of that post, I mention a 99 cent sale. The Calling is discounted on all retailers through October 28th.