Gratitude Check In

We’re halfway through November. Though life as we know it might not be what we expected a year ago, there are plenty of things to be thankful for. Yes, I write a lot of Gothic stories but I’m a Pollyanna at heart. I may not play “The Glad Game”, but I do have a window full of prisms (that look especially lovely this time of year when the sun is lower) and I always try to look on the Brightside.

So what’s the happy news? I’ll choose three things out of many.

1. I’m enjoying my new glasses. I’ve been using OTC readers for several years for increasingly numerous things and finally got an eye exam last month. On a walk one day last week, I decided they make a good flower holder.

Me. No filter. No makeup.

2. I’m almost done with the first draft of a new novel. I’ve mentioned before that I was slamming out first drafts of The Possession Chronicles novels (average word count for those was 120,000) in about two months. Ode to 2020 and emotional exhaustion, I’ve been struggling to complete a novel I began a year ago this month. I passed 75K on it last night and hope to complete it by Thanksgiving/the end of the month.

Historical inspiration for the main character.

This project is a Possession Chronicles spinoff–a stand alone young adult Gothic novel that takes place in 1897. I get to weave in my Fortitude research (which took place in 1898) as well as Possession Chronicles tidbits, and give a detailed backstory to a minor character from the series (Sean Spunner) while name dropping a few of the main families from the series (Easton and Melling). I’m back to my coming-of-age roots with this one, complete with first person POV for the main character and teen angst/hormones with other main players. (Ever wonder what a Mystics of Dardenne member was like before his initiation, you’ll find out with seventeen-year-old Sean.)

3. Another sale on books! There’s been a lot of those lately. While I share them on social media pages and, if timing is right, in my monthly newsletter, I’m making an effort to include my blog/website with news like this. In celebration of the forthcoming Homeroom Heroes Christmas charity anthology, Bienvenue Press has the digital editions of the two previous Christmas anthologies on sale the month of November. Hometown Heroes benefits Cajun Navy Relief and Rescue and features a Fortitude short, “Courtship and Courage”. Finally Home proceeds go to regional animal rescue nonprofits. You can read Possession Chronicles short #3.5, “Grace Shadowed”, there.

These Christmas anthologies are romance collections, so my stories are a bit cheerier/happily ever after than typical, but I do keep the hint of Southern Gothic readers have come to expect from me. Find “Natural Selection in Life and Love”, Possession Chronicles #6.1 (which takes place the winter of 1912-1913), in next month’s release of Homeroom Heroes.

That wraps things up for me. How are things going for you? Are you able to find the Brightsides in your life?

Winter Wonderland

There is an epic level of awesomeness happening in my life right now, but where to begin? The basics—and I will expound on all of these things in my December newsletter next week, so if you haven’t yet, subscribe!

I’m traveling and experiencing new things such as wintry weather in the Pocono Mountains. Cold and ice are much more glamorous on the big screen than in reality. But I do prefer autumn/winter clothes to summer, so that’s a plus.

 A week from today marks the newest release for my literary collection (which is doubling in the next two months.) “Courtship and Courage”, a Fortitude short story is included in Hometown Heroes: A Christmas Anthology published by Bienvenue Press—my new home for my historical fiction projects. Proceeds from the sales go to Cajun Navy Relief. I wrote the story specifically for this charity project as a stepping stone from Fortitude (written for teens, though adult readers have also enjoyed it) to The Possession Chronicles (my forthcoming series for adult readers.) And, yes, Claire and Joe make the transition to my series as well. You haven’t seen the last of them.

 Here’s the synopsis of “Courtship and Courage”: Witnessing the race riots before the soldiers left for Cuba during the summer of 1898 didn’t stop Claire O’Farrell from opening her heart, but it prevented her from wanting to share it. The stormy Mobile Bay winter proves the right catalyst for Joe Walker to prove his devotion to the woman he loves, though Claire is determined her choices have made her unworthy.

Read it for as little as ninety-nine cents and help others rescue and relieve the stress natural disasters cause along the Gulf Coast.

And the third item I want to share—shout about actually—is the cover reveal for Perilous Confessions, book one in The Possession Chronicles. Newsletter subscribers will be the first to see it in less than a week. (Another reason to join the list! I email only once a month during the first week with the best highlights and information about my literary news, including what I’m reading.) The day after the newsletter, I’ll share the image on social media and update my website, etc. with the gorgeous, Gothic cover.

Three years after the release of my first book and there’s a plethora of activity in my literary life and lots more to come—like three new novels in 2019, for one thing. (Another hint: if you don’t have it yet and want this edition of Fortitude in your collection, buy it soon. As I write this, the Kindle version is free.)

More next week in my newsletter (it’s separate from this blog, so you need to join on there too), but you can find me on multiple sites on the web in the meantime. Find all my links on my contact page.

Another Bucket List Item Done

Over three years ago I wrote about checking off the first of my Bucket List goals: seeing my favorite band, Europe, in concert. A few months later, I experienced another: visiting Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. By the end of 2015, a third—my first novel was published that December. Today I’m here to say I’ve completed the fourth.

I’m a simple girl and though I spin tales of fiction, I tend to be a realist. Grounded and beyond practical in many instances and my Bucket List is proof. Five items—short enough to count on one hand—and only the remaining one involves an out-of-the-country experience (though I thought I might have to travel to Europe to see Europe in concert. Fortunately I only had to go to Indianapolis the first time, Biloxi the second.)

On October 6, I was finally able to see my favorite singer in concert: Mitch Malloy! I first started listening to him in high school when he was a solo artist and over the decades have collected his albums across many musical genres, a live DVD, and kept in touch with him on social media. While I met him once over sixteen years ago, I’d never seen him sing. This summer Mitch took the spot as the lead singer of the established rock band Great White and began touring with them. Last Saturday they had a gig three hours away in Mississippi and my husband and I went. The music wasn’t my favorite songs, but his voice didn’t disappoint and he’s a fabulous front man. Those in the audience who weren’t familiar with him were won over.


Another great experience for the record—and one more to go! What’s on your Bucket List?

 

Kid Lit 101

As many of you know, my first passion in the book word is middle grade literature. Though a late reader, I began devouring novels like The Babysitters-Club Series as they were published and ghost stories by Betty Ren Wright in fourth grade, but by sixth grade I was ready for more. I fell in love with the power of words in my middle school library when I found Katherine Paterson and Richard Peck. Bridge to Terabithia was the first book to make me cry and Ghosts I Have Been the first to engage me with history through the guise of my fascination with the Titanic and Gothic-feels. From there I dove into the world of teen books, eagerly awaiting the newest from authors like Christopher Pike on my trips to the bookstore in the mall.

By the time I was fourteen, I was writing my own stories and following the marketplace. I continued to read and collected these authors and never gave them up, even as I aged out of the genres. When I was twenty and landed my dream job at a Books-A-Million, I let them know I wanted the kids’ section of the store. It took a few months, but when the position opened, I embraced the colorful area from baby books to young adult reads. It took several weeks, but I physically handled every book in that corner of the store as I organized and then shelved all the new shipments during the time I was employed there. Most often when someone was looking for a book in one of my categories I could say what shelf it was on without looking. I knew the books, the authors. It was my home away from home.

All this, plus more decades of reading and following the marketplace, and five years serving as Local Liaison for my region of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, has helped shape my knowledge of the book world as it relates to children’s literature. I’ve wrapped my years of experience and passion into a tidy presentation titled “Kid Lit 101”, which I’ve been blessed to share at several events, including multiple writers groups and a literary festival over the past few years. This Saturday, June 23, 2018, I’ll present this fast-moving, informative presentation in Gulfport, Mississippi, to Gulf Coast Writers Association at 11am at Gulfport Galleria of Fine Art. Join me if you can.

What are you literary passions?

Fortitude is Almost Here

A week and a half to go until Fortitude is out in the world. It’s an exciting, frightening, emotional time but being surrounded by encouraging family and supportive friends make it all easier. So does having a gorgeous cover and awesome professional team.

Fortitude cover

If you’re interested in a Kindle copy, Amazon has the pre-order link up. I’ll be sure to share other sources as they become available.

For now, have a blessed Thanksgiving weekend!