Mardi Gras History

Mardi Gras. I’ve always had a love or hate relationship with it. As a child growing up in California one of the highlights of the year was a box of beads, throws, and Moon Pies my mother’s cousin would send us. The magic of the sparkling beads, fun toys, and the wonders of sugar coated marshmallow pies. What wasn’t to love?

As I grew older, my understanding changed. Carnival is a time of excess and indulgent behavior and people use it as an excuse to sin. Behind the beauty in the pageantry, filthy behaviors happen within some circles. Tens of thousands—and more—dollars are spent only to pelt parade watchers with plastic, guzzle booze, and litter the streets. Think of all the good that money could be used for instead—a waste!

Then I discovered the historical origins and my understanding evolved further. Bachelors in Mobile began the first society as an impromptu parade through town to disturb the peace. The wildness was celebrating the New Year and the timing eventually expanded to be enjoyed before revelers humbled themselves for Lent. After the Civil War, people in the Port City needed something to lift their spirits and carnival was brought back. Today many of the societies donate to non-profits and do volunteer work throughout the year within the community.

While parades and extravagant balls aren’t my personal style, I’ve developed an appreciation for the colorful history it gives Mobile, Alabama. Before I began writing what is now the first book of The Possession Chronicles, Perilous Confessions, I researched the history of Mardi Gras in Mobile through books as well as newspaper articles from the 1905 season I wrote about. I knew I didn’t want to use real society names, so I asked the opinion of a writer friend who had tackled high society and Mardi Gras in a contemporary setting for her YA/NA novel Want. Stephanie gave me permission to use the society she created for her modern take on carnival in my series. I had a lot of fun creating the roots of Mystics of Dardenne and I’d like to think Isaac Laroche would find the Dardennes’ antics entertaining—at the very least.

Writing is all about stirring emotions. Things the author and the reader are passionate about are the best things to use, but passion isn’t always positive. The feelings I’ve had about Mardi Gras throughout my life (from wonder to disgust) can be found within Perilous Confessions. Just as with any topic, whatever your take on carnival season is I hope you’ll continue to find new information and insight to further your understanding of this unique event.

It’s release day for Perilous Confessions! You can read the first five chapters with the “Look Inside” option. (The digital sale price of $0.99 won’t last forever.) To check out Stephanie and her books, find her on Goodreads. Happy reading!

Hometown Heroes Release Day

It’s release day for this collection of romantic shorts. Find Hometown Heroes: A Christmas Anthology by Bienvenue Press in ebook and print.


I’m happy to share “Courtship and Courage” with you as part of the transitioning of my historical works to Bienvenue Press. This all new short continues the story of Claire O’Farrell and Joe Walker from Fortitude. If you’re new to my writing, these two characters will make appearances in The Possession Chronicles, so you’ll want to catch up with them.

While Fortitude (and my other publications to date) have been primarily targeted for teens, “Courtship and Courage” is my bridge into writing for an adult audience.
Since it’s the first story in the book, the “Look inside” option on Amazon allows you to read the first several scenes, so enjoy!

As always, I’m open for questions and would love to hear from you after you read it.

 

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.

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.

450-gallery

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.)

bellingrath-2016
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?

 

Fern and the Art of Living

The South has awesome oak trees. Amid the branches you can often see moss, ferns, and other creeping plants growing. Government Street in Mobile, AL is lined with fabulous live oaks—their trunks and main branches support leafy green ferns and mosses. (Mental note: take picture next time I’m downtown.)

The past two years, one of the water oaks in our backyard has been home to a struggling fern of its own. We have plenty of moss/other fuzzy stuff on the different trees.
100_2523

100_2524

100_2525

But, for some reason, the fern is magical to me. Maybe because it conjures images of faerie laden forests or a tropical getaway. Or the fact that the odds of a plant growing out of rough, tree bark is inspiring. If the fern can cling to life, then I can stick with my goals, right?
100_2521
Whatever the meaning, I’ve made a goal of supporting the fern. Hopefully the plant, and my goals, will flourish when the summer heat arrives.

Photographic Evidence

100_2159
I’ve been playing hooky
Running away from stress
Enjoying the weather
And forgetting my whole mess

100_2232

I’ve been playing hooky
And seeking out beauty
That comes this time of year
While running after cuties

I’ve been playing hooky
I have my proof, you see
All that I’ve been doing
Is inspiration for me
100_2238