Mardi Gras Mood

Crisp January days always remind me of Alexander Melling and Lucy Easton in Perilous Confessions. The first book in The Possession Chronicles released three years ago this month and is set between December 1904 and February 1905.

This time of year, camellias are in bloom, chill days make me yearn for a cloak, and if I hear bells from the nearby Catholic church, consider me gone because my mind is reviewing the settings, costumes, and characters.

If the seasonally appropriate weather is in conjunction with Mardi Gras news, that compounds my distraction. Lavish masquerades, swoon-worthy scenes, and enough scandals to ignite gossip flames for weeks–that’s what you’ll find in Perilous Confessions.

Completing the 1905 carnival season, the only novella in the series comes into play. Mosaic of Seduction picks up immediately after Perilous Confessions, showcasing the aftermath of Alex and Lucy’s relationship, as well as bringing into play debutante Eliza Melling’s first year season in society. To say she makes the most of it might be an understatement.

Why am I rehashing books that have been out for a while? Because their Kindle editions have new pricing. Perilous Confessions and Mosaic of Seduction are now both priced at ninety-nine cents each.

It’s a great price to fill your digital library and tell your friends so you can discuss the series. The spectrum of characters has plenty of room for choosing sides, ‘ships, and everything in between. Root for your favorites and hope those you despise get what they deserve–it’s all acceptable within the pages of historic Mobile Bay.

As always, I’m happy to answer questions about any of my books or short stories. I also do author visits and presentations–both in person (Mobile and Baldwin counties in AL, and coastal Mississippi and Pensacola areas) and virtually. Check out the contact page for ways to get in touch.

Winter Greetings and Farewell

The shortest day on the calendar seems like a good time to bid goodbye to you in 2021. It’s been a productive year for me. Here’s a quick recap of the notable literary happenings.

I published two novels and a novella in The Possession Chronicles through Bienvenue Press. Haunted Remains, Barren Devotion–now available in print and Kindle editions–and Mosaic of Seduction. I’d love to hear from you as you read the books, so don’t be shy about emailing, reviewing, or commenting. (There’s one more novel to go in the main series. Look for Reckless Rebellion in April 2022 to see what happens to the Melling and Davenport families as the next generation comes of age in the 1920s.)

Another short story in a Mobile Writers’ Guild anthology published–my fifth in as many years. Find “Dashing Through the Snow” in the Stormy Pieces collection.

I’ve completed a new trilogy, with over half a dozen drafts of each of the novels so far. The series is The Malevolent Trilogy and I’ve created a page on my website for it. Yes, it’s another Southern Gothic family saga that’s related to The Possession Chronicles (a spin-off), but it can be read alone.

A new Possession Chronicles linked short story, “Mystic Misperception”, was written and submitted for consideration in a Bienvenue Press Mardi Gras anthology for 2022.

And I’m finishing up final edits before submitting a short story for the 2022 Mobile Writers Guild anthology with the theme “retold classics”. It’s a reimagining of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Rappaccini’s Daughter” (my favorite short story by Hawthorne) and it’s my first time working a retelling. I had fun infusing Southern Gothic elements into the turn-of-the-century Mobile setting, though the characters are completely unrelated to anything or anyone in The Possession Chronicles. (I had to prove to myself I could write something besides my series.)

There will be lots of news to share in 2022, but in the meantime, there is plenty to read–both from myself and the other authors and genres you follow. I know my TBR stack is in the hundreds. How about your reading pile?

I’ll be back to blogging (typically twice a month) in January. Until then, may you stay cozy and read often in the days ahead. Happy holidays and have a great new year.

Sugar and spice, with story lines a little naughty and nice…

Setting Locations of The Possession Chronicles: Part 2

After being delayed several times, here is the official post about The Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception as it relates to The Possession Chronicles. As a refresher, here is the link to the post with the Part 1, which has a bird’s eye view of the downtown Mobile area–including the cathedral. That post followed several others about the historic homes that serve as inspiration for the characters’ houses. Check those out here and here.

All the modern photos on today’s blog post were taken by me within the past five years, with the exception of the photo with me in it, which was taken by my friend and writing buddy Joyce Scarbrough.

A vintage postcard image of the exterior.
A recent front facing, taken from Cathedral Square.

The cathedral is close to 200 years old and is an iconic part of Mobile’s eclectic architecture. The building isn’t tall compared to the modern skyscrapers now populating the area, but see how it dwarves the automobiles in the photo above. As noted in the acknowledgements in Perilous Confessions, Cathedral Square was not in existence during The Possession Chronicles timeline. The park across from the cathedral was completed in the 1990s–a purposely chosen twisting of history to suit an author’s needs.

The back of the cathedral during the timeline of Perilous Confessions and Mosaic of Seduction.
Circa 1900. Power lines and horse dung–Old Mobile.
Note the building on the right, directly across from the church. It was not a park.

My favorite location on the cathedral grounds is the portico. It is truly awe-inspiring to stand on it. I’ve written a lot of scenes there, including in my first novel, Fortitude.

Aunt Norah puts on a feast for dinner and she and Mama enjoy the evening together. After supper, Kevin and I accompany them to The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. We pray and light candles and then congregate on the portico of the cathedral amid a gathering of women with their best fans warding off the heat. A few men use their hats to cool themselves too.

“This must be what it’s like to be near God. I feel small, like I don’t matter,” Kevin whispers to me.

“You matter, so don’t worry about feeling like an ant.”

“I never said a bug.” He looks like he’s been holding a burden of his own and is ready to lay it at the door of this massive church.

-Fortitude

One of my favorite photos of the portico. I had a 16x20in print made.

On the sixteenth of May, Eliza held her brother’s arm as they ascended the steps to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Mobile for the noon wedding Mass of Edmund Albert Easton and Mary Margaret Fitzgerald.

Circling a column like Folly in his approach, Sean’s golden eyes sparked mischief. “Have you come to celebrate escaping Edmund’s clutches?”

Laughing, Eliza offered her hand. “You know me well, Sean.”

Mosaic of Seduction

From 2016. For size reference, I’m six feet tall. The columns and portico are HUGE.

Catholics were well represented from the early days of Mobile’s rich French and Spanish beginnings and it was the Mobile Catholics who started the first carnival “Mardi Gras” in the country–which I touched on in this 2020 post. The prevalence of Catholics in Mobile is what caused me to use their faith for the majority of my characters. According to several Catholic readers I’ve heard from, I portrayed “Catholic guilt” well.

Vintage postcard of the interior.
The modern interior–lots of gilt splendor.

The cathedral wasn’t made into a Basilica until the 1960s, when the basement crypt for the bishops was added. I don’t have any information on the basement from before it was updated for that, so I used my imagination for the basement scene in Haunted Remains.

The spiral stairs leading to the basement crypt/chapel.

Did I cover the highlights you were expecting? Tell me if there is anything else you want to know and I’ll do my best to answer the questions. For more information, you can also check out the Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception’s website.

And, in case you missed last week’s cover reveal, here it is again–with the cathedral.

March Madness

Pollen abounds, as do health hijinks and mega download numbers. This month started with great literary news–Perilous Confessions made it to #1 on the Saga Fiction chart for free books during a sale on Amazon U.K.–and I added in some medical scares (I’m good, for now), all while coated in lovely yellow dust–the accessory of spring.

Mirror Lake at Bellingrath Gardens & Home in Theodore, Alabama (Mobile County) on March 22, 2021.

Between all that, I’ve been trying to finish the first draft of my newest project. I began writing it January 17, 2021. Last night, I got to 101,004 words on it. There are a few more chapters to go, which I hope to complete by the end of the month. The project is still unnamed, which is weird for me, but it’s an unnumbered/stand alone Possession Chronicles tie-in novel set the spring-summer of 1916 (between books six and seven of the series).

For those worried about that massive word count, I over-write. If you think my books are heavy on descriptions, you should see what I cut! I also naturally write in a passive voice, which is cumbersome and wordy. I tend to cut close to 10% of the word count in the first dozen rounds of self edits just by addressing those two things. But The Possession Chronicles novels are long. They average 106,000 words. My worse overwrite was Perilous Confessions. The first draft was 132,000 words (which I wrote in 53 days)–finished product was twenty thousand words less.

If you haven’t already, be sure to download a copy of Mosaic of Seduction. It’s listed for FREE on Amazon, nook, Kobo, and more. Paperback copies are now available too.

Eliza Melling is shocking readers–even those who are caught up on the series. There are plenty of surprises, even though this is #1.5 and five novels are published. Don’t assume you know the whole story about Eliza’s year between Perilous Confessions and Murmurs of Evil.

My Facebook readers group, Dalby’s Darklings, is doing an online book club style discussion about Mosaic of Seduction April 9-11. This is something I do the month following a new release for the readers group. We dive into the characters and settings through questions/answers and conversation starters. I also do a giveaway and often hint at what is to come–especially about the series. These discussions are hosted on a separate Event page so there are no spoilers in the main group. You are welcome to join us. If you can’t attend, I’m always happy to answer questions via email, direct messages on social media, questions post on my Goodreads author page, etc. Find my contact info here.

Stellar Digital Sale

In conjunction with the release of the first novella in The Possession Chronicles, Bienvenue Press is running a rare sale on the Kindle editions of the first four books in the series. If you haven’t heard yet, Mosaic of Seduction, The Possession Chronicles #1.5 novella, is now available for download.

To go along with release week for the novella, the publisher has put the first three novels in the series on sale–major sale!

Perilous Confessions is FREE!

Murmurs of Evil saves you three dollars!

Tendrils of Passion is on sale for two dollars off!

Add that with the free novella download of Mosaic of Seduction and readers can get the first four books in The Possession Chronicles for the price of one regular download.

If you haven’t tried The Possession Chronicles, now is the time to read. If you love the series, tell you friends. Post the link to this update or reblog it to your readers. Share the love for this historical Southern Gothic family saga series.