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?

Mardi Gras and Southern Gothic

It’s that time of year, again. Mardi Gras. The day (season) of indulgence. Last January, I blogged about it on a personal level–check it out here. Today, I’d like to take a minute to tie Mardi Gras with my Southern Gothic series.

I found this explanation of Southern Gothic Literature online last year on a visual image, so I don’t know who to credit for it:

The South’s reputation for sultry decadence lives on in a literature that meshes the moody romanticism of Gothic novels with the American South’s sensibility of tragedy and doom.

Brilliant, right? When I read it I said “Yes! That’s what The Possession Chronicles is all about.” Tragic events and doomed choices, all layered within romantic ideals that don’t always hold up in the humidity.

Mardi Gras is prominent in Perilous Confessions, the first book in the series, and there isn’t much in life more decadent than those masquerades. My tagline for the book is “Their love brought scandal and demons.” You can’t get much more doomed than demons. Add in the backdrop of carnival season with the juxtapose of life and death symbolized in much of Mobile, Alabama’s Mardi Gras history looming in the background–not to mention Catholic guilt–it creates a greater sense of urgency to the characters’ choices. A “play with Folly all you like, but come Lent it needs to stop” attitude that might be easier said than done when you dive into addiction and other psychological issues.

 

How do the characters hold up? Read to find out.
And I’m always happy to discuss.

 

Five Fortitude Facts

I’ve been a little obsessive about The Possession Chronicles lately, but here are five facts about Fortitude:

  • My first book baby—though not my first manuscript written. (It’s the sixth book-length manuscript for me.)
  • It’s the result of five years of research and writing.
  • The novel has the most reviews out of all my books.
  • It has the distinction of being listed as a “Best Book for Kids” (grades 5-10th) from Grateful American Foundation for its historical accuracy and reader engagement.
  • It’s a standalone novel, but there are other writings that tie into it—“Courtship and Courage: A Fortitude Short” in the Hometown Heroes Christmas Anthology by Bienvenue Press and you can find Fortitude characters in The Possession Chronicles from book two on.

Have you read Fortitude? Do you have a favorite character? You’ll be able to see a couple of the main characters—and the next generation—in The Possession Chronicles. Happy reading!

Talking Books in Online Readers Groups

It’s been a busy summer around here but there’s always time to talk books. I now have two active “Readers Groups” on Facebook. The first one I started several months ago: Young at Heart MG-YA Readers Group. This is the place to be if you enjoy coming-of-age stories traditionally marketed for readers 8-18. (My personal favorites tend to be the ones labeled 10-14 or simply 10+.) It’s a great group for those who love middle grade and young adult literature as well as teachers and parents looking for recommendations or those who like to reminisce about their favorite books from childhood.
The second group is new as of last week. I officially kicked it off July eighth to coincide with the six-months-until-release of Perilous Confessions, book one of The Possession Chronicles. (It will be here before we know it!) Possessed: Timeless Gothic Reads covers Gothic books from British classics like The Castle Otranto and Jane Eyre to the American standards like House of the Seven Gables and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow to the twentieth century offerings from author like Victoria Holt and Dorothy Eden as well as modern Gothics. Classic Gothics, Southern Gothic, Gothic Romance, Gothic family sagas, and more are open for discussion and recommendation. The group is still growing, but we’ve already had some great conversations so far about Southern Gothic literature from middle grade to adult books.

I invite you to join one or both if they fit your reading style. While you’re there, invite a friend too. There is room for all in these virtual discussions.

Literary Reflections

Last Saturday I gave my “Kid Lit 101” presentation to a group of writers in Gulfport, Mississippi. While what is categorized as (upper) middle grade is my first literary love, the past few years I’ve been focusing the majority of my reading time on Gothic—classic Gothic, Southern Gothic, Gothic Romance, etc.—to be sure I’m doing the category justice with my own stories.

Revisiting the books I touch on in the presentation (which are everything from baby books to young adult novels) was like visiting old friends. I haven’t given the presentation in about two years, much less dove so deep into conversation about my favorite coming-of-age genre, so it was refreshing. I remembered why I started writing—awesome books like these. And rereading Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson this weekend helped solidify that.

The past few days I’ve forced a separation for myself from The Possession Chronicles. While I’ve been writing and editing the eight books in the series almost non-stop for over two and a half years, I still love everything about it. I’m not sick of the characters or the story lines. I could happily move to round ten of edits on book six, or any other draft, but I know I need to distance myself from this epic project before I tackle professional edits for book one, Perilous Confessions (releasing January 8, 2019.)

So in the meantime, I’ll be exploring the scary world of the MG/YA manuscripts I wrote as a teenager. Maybe I’ll find a nugget of hope within one of the stories that with major resuscitation (thanks to decades of acquired experience) would be able to bring one of them to life. If not, at least I’ll be able to see how far I’ve come as a writer.

What helps you rediscover your literary roots?