The Homes of The Possession Chronicles: Part 1

Welcome to the first in a series of blog posts featuring the homes of The Possession Chronicles characters. All the city houses in the family saga are actual homes in Mobile, Alabama. Part of my research is choosing locations that are historically accurate–houses, churches, parks, hotels, and more. For the most part, I keep to the facts, though I have been known to fictionalize a few things. (I typically note those liberties in the Author’s Note/Acknowledgement section.) To start things off, here are the two main family homes in The Possession Chronicles, the Melling and the Easton houses.

The Mellings’ Government Street mansion. This one I fudged on the build year by a couple to have it complete for their 1904 Christmas party in Perilous Confessions. (It is on record as being built “circa 1906”, so it’s not too far off.)

1209 Government Street, Mobile, Alabama

Designed by my favorite local architect, George B. Rogers, this beauty is one of dozens of homes he designed along Government Street and adjoining (now historic) neighborhoods. During the the first few decades of the twentieth century, everyone who was anyone in Mobile high society had a Rogers designed home. He built a wide variety of private and public buildings, including a skyscraper, a Scottish Rite Temple, the library, a public high school, and Bellingrath Gardens and Home (one of “America’s Castles”). I refer to George Bigelow Rogers as Mobile’s Frank Lloyd Wright. Want a peak inside the “Melling” home? Check out the Zillow listing from when it was last on the market.

The Easton Home. This majestic Queen Anne Victorian is a reader favorite. Built from a kit in 1897, the home has all the details you expect from a life-sized dollhouse.

1552 Monterey Place (at the corner of Catherine St.) in Mobile, Alabama

Today, the “Easton” home is a functioning Bed and Breakfast with a stellar reputation–and it’s for sale! Check out the gorgeous photos and all the stats here. Have you ever wanted to own a B&B? This is the perfect one to step into. The current owners are welcoming and full of all the Southern hospitality you’d expect. I give a nod to the Kate Shepard House name by having the oldest Easton sister, Susan, married to a David Shepard of Grand Bay.

What other homes or locations do you wish to read about and see? I’ll be sure to feature them in the weeks ahead.

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?

New Year, New Stories

Unless you live along the Gulf Coast, the holidays are over. If you’re in the Mardi Gras zone, you know the festivities have just begun. Besides being a year old this week, Perilous Confessions is fun to talk about during carnival season. A lot of my historical research centered around Mardi Gras in the Port City.

The Possession Chronicles passed its one year mark, but growth is still happening. Three full-length novels are out–four if you count Fortitude as an unofficial prequel–as well as three short stories (if you include “Courtship and Courage”, the Fortitude short in Hometown Heroes.) Here’s a photo I took of the Possession Chronicles related books, including the anthologies featuring short stories, in chronological order of how to read them.

You can find a list of the publications in this order–including what’s to come and projected release dates where possible–on my website’s page dedicated to the series. Next to be added to is Valentine’s Day Pieces, a Mobile Writers Guild anthology, which releases later this month. Look for ordering links in the following blog post (in about two weeks.)

February will hopefully see the unveiling of book four’s cover as Scarred Memories releases in April. Also forthcoming is a yet-to-be-announced short story project that I’m co-writing with a USA Today best-selling author which ties our story worlds together.  2020 will be a year to read and remember.  Don’t miss out–catch up with The Possession Chronicles now!

 

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.

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?