A Cool Breeze

The weather’s going to change, right? We’re closing in on autumn but the humidity of summer is clinging to ninety-degree temperatures like it’s still August in Mobile, Alabama. Here’s something to cool you down: Christmas.

If you subscribe to my monthly newsletter (you don’t? Remedy that right now by signing up here), you may have heard that I wrote two short stories this summer for submissions to a couple different anthologies. I’m happy to report that “Courtship and Courage” has been accepted into Bienvenue Press’s Hometown Heroes Charity Christmas anthology to benefit America’s Cajun Navy. Release dates/buying options will be forthcoming.

If you haven’t yet, now is a great time to read Fortitude. “Courtship and Courage” begins the December after the book ends. While written as a novel for teens, it has proven to be a coming-of-age story that readers enjoy into adulthood. Fortitude holds rank as a “Best Books” for kids (grades 5th-10th) from Grateful American Foundation with only twenty-two other historical novels and non-fiction titles. You can read it free in Kindle Unlimited, purchase the ebook for $1.99, or buy a paperback through your favorite bookseller.

And for those who have read it and always wanted a bit more about Claire O’Farrell, here’s the next stepping stone. Yes, that means you haven’t seen the last of her. Stay tuned for more.

Won Over

Last night I went to a concert for a band I thought of as decent and liked a few songs by them (including one that’s on a soundtrack for a book in The Possession Chronicles.) Usually I don’t attend a concert unless it’s by a favorite because of two things: time and money. But this instance was for a good cause—an early birthday present for my middle child. We journeyed to Orange Beach, Alabama, to The Wharf in the stifling August heat to see Imagine Dragons at the amphitheater.

I was impressed by the fourteen-year-old opener, Grace VanderWaal. Mature voice, peppy songs, and adorable when she ran from a dragonfly and messed up the words. I’d never heard of her before and forgot to look her up before the concert, but it was a good set.

A half hour later, Imagine Dragons took the stage in an epic opening with “Radioactive.” First point: several songs in and I appreciated their talent completely. The sound was tight, energy good.  (I love hearing bands live and often prefer live versions to album versions of songs by my favorite bands.) And I’ve never seen so many confetti cannons before! They didn’t wait for a finale—they were going off throughout. Only the giant balloons were saved toward the end.

Second point: about two thirds of the way through the concert, the members came around to a small stage in the middle of the venue, halfway up the seating area and did three songs in an acoustic set. The only thing better than live versions are live acoustic versions. (Another point.) Most of the members played several instruments (bonus points) and they showed appreciation for the people in the back (like us.)

Even more point (are we still keeping score?): during “Demons” (one of my Possession Chronicles songs—lots of inner demons and otherwise in the series) Dan Reynolds did a shout out to youth suffering with depression and anxiety, urging them to seek therapy and find empowerment there like he did, and not take their lives because they are loved and needed. The whole show was like a party, positive vibes and sing-along fun until they ended with “Believer.” Much respect for Imagine Dragons!

Is there a band that won you over when you saw them live?

Weeding Through It

This past week I was struck with plot problems, which coincided with both a beta reader critique as well as a Revise and Resubmit from a publishing company. One major issue was pacing and the other was that I missed the mark on a key turning point for two main characters, which in turn reflected on other issues needing to be strengthened. Yes, this is for book one in the Gothic family saga that’s possessed my time, energy, and effort the past two years. And since this issue was pointed out in the first manuscript the effects will ripple through the seven other stories in the series.

After my initial freak out—which I let simmer over night—I read through the critique/suggestions again and decided to turn to the place I go when I need to plot: the yard. Yes, it’s January but on the Gulf Coast there’s always yardwork to be done. After the last freeze, the remainder of the lantana plants were ready to be pruned for the season and the flower bed was in need of weeding.

So I took my pensive thoughts, grabbed the wheelbarrow and pruners, pulled on my gloves, and set to work. By the first half-hour I knew the problem wasn’t as big as I feared. The situations, people, and history were there already, I just hadn’t dug into that corner of the character’s past thoroughly because I didn’t want to wallow in that part of his dark life. As I worked, I allowed my mind to wander and focused on two despicable people associated with the character in question that I knew could be involved. It was easy to narrow down the right one once I gave myself permission to dig deeper.

After about an hour, I knew which minor character would be the catalyst and began forming the outline of a new character from the shadows of the past I’d kept locked away. The new character was always there, just not named or explored.

With the situation, characters, and history mapped, I processed where in the manuscript the information could be placed. As organically as the history came to me, it was clear to see that there were natural places to insert the backstory into the manuscript without jarring or taking away what was already there. Looking at the coming manuscripts, the revelation only solidifies the anguish and choices he will make in the stories as the saga unfolds. The history was there all along, I only needed to prune away the unnecessary layers hiding the base of the character’s life.

When all else fails, go to the garden.

Where do you go to think?

Literary Night Presentation



If you are in the Mobile Bay area, next Tuesday night Gallery 450 on Dauphin Street is kicking off 2017 with monthly Literary Night events, co-hosted by Mobile Writers Guild.

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Yes, I have the honor of being the first presenter. I’ll share my experiences of researching and writing historical novels set in and around Mobile, including Fortitude and my current projects (more news on those to come soon.)

Reminder: If you aren’t signed up to receive my newsletter, now is a good time to join the list.

Tis the Season

The light of the season is upon us and the books are under the tree.

 

xmas-2016-tree
xmas-2016-books

My children are enjoying the magic of the holidays, though most days they chose These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder as their read aloud as opposed to the traditional picking of Christmas books from under the tree each day. (We’ve been reading the Little House on the Prairie series out loud for over a year and they all love it.)

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I was silly enough to begin a new project last week. I’m thirty-five pages in and trying to moderate myself so I don’t completely disappear into the story during this family-centered time of year. I’m trying for a thousand words a day, but yesterday I did double that. Oops. A good “mistake.”

What are you up to this month?

 

YA Event

UPDATED June 7, 2016:
On the afternoon of June 11 at 1:00pm , I’ll be the featured young adult author at the Spanish Fort (Alabama) Barnes & Noble for a book signing during their NATIONAL TEEN BOOK FESTIVAL. They will have copies of Fortitude and Corroded for sale, which I’d be happy to sign, and lots of other cool things.

For details about this store’s B-Fest events, check out their Facebook event page.

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For the run-down of “B-Fest”, happening at all Barnes & Noble stores nation wide June 10-12, 2016, check out their Teen Blog. http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/teen/join-us-in-store-for-b-fest-our-first-ever-national-teen-book-festival/

Fortitude square

Life as I Know It

Sixteen years ago today my oldest was born and things haven’t been the same since. I can’t imagine life without him (or the other two that followed.) We have a special bond, in part because of my husband’s job but also because our personalities are similar. We were solo a lot of the time during his first several years of life, but when he was diagnosed on the autism spectrum at three years old, my world opened up. Without my son, I wouldn’t understand myself as well as I do, my other kids would probably have health issues, and I wouldn’t have found a good percentage of the books I read. His autism has enabled new understanding, peace, and preventative strategies for health and well-being. It’s allowed me to make connections with people I wouldn’t have otherwise met and inspired several of my articles and manuscripts. My son has motivated my life, from writing to relationships, from reading to travel. It’s been a journey of love, with plenty of ups and downs to share along the way. Here’s to more years of sharing.

On the beach at Dauphin Island, May 2014

On the beach at Dauphin Island, May 2014