Free Fortitude

 Couldn’t we all use a little extra grit and determination right about now? I know I could.

As a timely gift, my first published novel (now in its second edition), FORTIUDE, is available as a FREE download on Kindle this week. This coming-of-age novel features Claire O’Farrell and her Dauphin Island family, as well as her Creole best friend and Buffalo Soldiers amid the backdrop of the Spanish-American War in 1898. Sadly, those themes are relevant to current events, with hurricanes on the Gulf Coast and acts of war all over the news in recent weeks.

Fortitude is often claimed as a reader favorite from all my novels. It’s geared for ages twelve and older, so it can be shared with younger relatives and friends. I’ve spoken to several schools and at writing events for upper elementary grades through high schoolers about it. It’s even on the small but mighty “Best History Books” list for Grateful American Kids for its historical accuracy and reader engagement–a true honor. (Out of only about fifty books listed, Fortitude is up there with the likes of Newbery winners, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Maya Angelou!)

And, of course, I’ll remind you that Fortitude does tie into The Possession Chronicles. If you’re reading the series, you’ll want to dive into Fortitude because a relation to Claire (and Joe) plays a sizeable roll in the forthcoming final novel of the series.

So grab your free download of Fortitude this week and tell a friend! It’s a great read to discuss in book clubs or one-on-one. And, as always, I’m happy to answer any questions about it–just reach out.

Summer Writes, Reads, and Edits

It’s meltingly hot here in Mobile, Alabama, which means it’s a typical August along the Gulf Coast. My favorite thing to do in August are indoor activities including reading, writing, and editing.

On August first, I completed the first draft of the final manuscript in the trilogy I began in the autumn of 2019. It took me until December 2020 to complete the first book (about fourteen months), but this year I was able to knock out the second and third over-written installments in three months or less each. Hooray! (And when I say over-written, I mean it. The third project ended at 126,165 words.)

My plan is to release this nameless trilogy after the main body of The Possession Chronicles is completely published–which will hopefully be by the middle of 2022. That means plenty of time for working the dozens of rounds of edits each of the manuscripts need before they become books. Last week, I chronologically edited all three of them for the first time and I’m pleased with the overall trilogy arc, but I know individually they each need a lot of cutting and polishing.

Right now, I’m working my final personal round of edits on Barren Devotion, the seventh novel in The Possession Chronicles. It’s officially draft twenty-five, but it will get a couple more go-throughs with the editor I’m assigned to work with by Bienvenue Press. I’m hoping for a Winter release, but it will be Spring ’22 at the latest.

Now for the reading news. Last week in POSSESSED: Timeless Gothic Reads group on Facebook, I co-hosted a week-long discussion on Darkwater by Dorothy Eden. It was great to share one of my favorite novelists with fellow Gothic fans, many who were reading her for the first time. Dorothy Eden is my favorite for Gothic Romance (which Darkwater is), but I love her family sagas even more.

One of the visuals I shared during the discussion.

My current read is Steamboat Gothic, a delicious Southern Gothic family saga by another favorite author, Frances Parkinson Keyes. I’m not quite halfway and already it’s nudged into the top five of her books that I’ve read so far. Thinking it will be a top three contender.

You can follow all my reading adventures on Goodreads. I chart what I’m reading and leave short reviews when complete. I’ve read 30 books so far this year.

What are you reading right now?

Short and Sale

After ice and snow flurries in January 2014.

As reported two weeks ago, I spent a lot of time on edits this month. My short story for the next Mobile Writers Guild anthology is ready to submit. “Dashing Through the Snow” features a historic snowfall in Mobile, Alabama, and takes place pre-Possession Chronicles, with a few of the characters before they come of age. (Hello, young Sean Spunner!)

Snow is rare within the city of Mobile, a sub-tropical zone. The average snowfall happens once a decade, but snow flurries (little to no accumulation) happen more often–maybe twice that. The first time I saw snow falling was the winter I moved to Alabama, December 1996. I had seen lots of snow in the mountains in California, but never watched it fall. It’s magical!

Speaking of winter…there’s a sale happening now through the month of May for Homeroom Heroes. The digital edition is only $0.99, just in time for teacher appreciation days. If you aren’t familiar with this anthology from Bienvenue Press, here’s the overview.

“Awesome. Bold. Creative.

Homeroom Heroes brings you seven Christmas romances that celebrate our teachers and the compassion and dedication they bring to the classroom everyday. From paranormal to contemporary to historical, there’s something here to fill everyone with the spirit of the season. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Acadiana Writing Project.”

If you’ve missed out on my short story in this book, now is a good time to add it to your digital collection. Even if you save it to read when that season rolls around again, take advantage of the sale price and help out a good cause: Acadiana Writing Project in Louisiana.

“Natural Selection in Life and Love” was inspired by events in my family history–which is rare for The Possession Chronicles. Yes, I had an ancestor lose his job over discussing Charles Darwin. To find out more about the short story and the events from my family history archives, read the opening note from the December 2020 newsletter. (And if you aren’t subscribed to my monthly newsletter, you can remedy that from this link as well.)

It’s always the right season to relax with a book. Keep reading and enjoying your Spring.

Coming Soon–and Revisiting an Old Title

First off, let’s flash back a year. Right before my part of the country went into pandemic mode, Mobile Writers Guild celebrated a new release. Valentine’s Day Pieces is the third in the anthology series by this Mobile Bay area writers group I am happy to be part of. We all kept busy writing throughout the trying year of 2020 and released another title in time for Halloween.

As typical, my anthology offering can be read alone, but if you want to get the most out of your Possession Chronicles reading experience, collect these short stories. They dig deeper into the side characters and give insights (secrets!) into some of the main players you won’t find anywhere else. (My favorite example of that is a juicy tidbit about Ruth Melling you will only find in the short “Grace Shadowed” in Finally Home. Or maybe Father Claudio De Fiore’s escapades in New Orleans…)

How many are in your collection?

Along those lines, my next release is my first ever novella. Chronologically, it’s #1.5, but I wrote it after completing all eight novels in the series. Picking up the day after Perilous Confessions ends, Mosaic of Seduction digs into the twisted Melling family tree like you’ve never seen before.

Set in 1905 between the finale of a notorious love affair and the demonic infestation of Seacliff Cottage, Mosaic of Seduction creates ripples on both sides of Mobile Bay as Eliza Melling orchestrates a love triangle too devious for polite society.

At eighteen, free-spirited Eliza’s artistic drive is overshadowed only by her thirst for the forbidden. She wants her appetites quenched—both creatively and physically—but her lust for freedom rules them all.

Newly arrived in America, Deacon Claudio De Fiore had set aside the natural man in his quest to serve God, but when his desire to protect Eliza eclipses his training to become a priest, he must decide where his true allegiance lies. In a scandal only a Melling could produce, Eliza entraps the deacon while publicly courting a man from her elite social circle.

Step into one of the most tumultuous years of The Possession Chronicles in this tantalizing novella spanning the Mardi Gras season that began in Perilous Confessions and ending after the birth of a tragic new year.

Cover reveal and ordering link coming soon! This will be a FREE digital download for all, but also available for purchase in paperback. Get ready to learn more about Eliza, Claudio, and Sean–who you’ve read about in the last two anthology shorts (Halloween Pieces and Homeroom Heroes).

Two Years Old

Perilous Confessions, book one of The Possession Chronicles, was published two years ago. Since then, there’s been seven related short stories published and the first five novels in the series are available. And it all began when the editor of my first two novels (Fortitude and Corroded) encouraged me to try my hand at horror in the autumn of 2015. I went with Southern Gothic, though a couple of the books (Murmurs of Evil and Tendrils of Passion, which I wrote first) are considered Gothic horror.

I’m sure the news is in your part of the world is similar, but the big announcement along the Gulf Coast is the 2021 carnival season being put on hold/cancelled/adapted. People are still decorating, buying king cake, and eating Moon Pies, but large gatherings like the masquerades and parades aren’t happening this winter. That sounds like a good excuse to dive into Mardi Gras seasons of the past.

Now is a great time to visit or revisit the book where it all began–or did it? Besides being written after I completed what is now books two and three in the series, I also wrote a prequel short story to The Possession Chronicles after writing all eight novels. Have you read “Masked Flaws”? It takes place the winter before Perilous Confessions, during the infamous 1904 carnival season mentioned in the first book. The year of Edmund Easton’s initiation into Mystics of Dardenne.

You can read “Masked Flaws” in the Mobile Writers Guild’s Mardi Gras Pieces anthology or claim a free digital download of the short story after subscribing to my monthly newsletter.

Do you have a favorite Mardi Gras themed read?