A Lull in the Storm

It’s been a whirl year of books so far, but now things are settling down. This month–besides the release of Fortitude–I worked a round of professional edits on my next release. Murmurs of Evil, book two of The Possession Chronicles, will be available June 11. After finishing that editorial pass, I slipped into book three for a tightening round and now I’m on book four for the sixteenth time. I’m pleased to report the series is still as enjoyable for me to work on as ever–and that feels great.

I’m excited to share more of The Possession Chronicles with readers, so much so that I started an insider’s readers group on Facebook for those looking for more facts and inspiration behind my stories. To join the fun and learn more about my writing process in regards to all my stories, check out Dalby’s Darklings.

If an online group isn’t your thing, be sure you’re registered for my monthly newsletter. I send it out the first week of the month (next week for April), highlighting upcoming news/events, what I’ve been reading, and more.

Sneak peek: next up, I’ll be at Gulf Coast Children’s Book Festival in support of Fortitude on April 4.

 

Perilous Confessions Soundtrack

Perilous Confessions, the first book in The Possession Chronicles, has been out in the world for just over two weeks. You know what that means, right? It’s time to unveil my soundtrack for it!


My writing process starts with creating a “mood music” playlist for my project that I listen to almost exclusively while I’m first drafting the story. (Perilous Confession‘s playlist has 474 songs, so I didn’t get bored with the music.) From that list, I create a soundtrack once the first draft is complete. Once I work edits–which has its own “editing playlist”–I adjust the soundtrack further until final edits are complete through the publisher.

The following is Perilous Confession‘s musical journey.
Spoiler:
If you listen to each song in order, you will known the story line, so you might want to save until you’ve finished reading.

1. Fools Rush In by Rick Nelson

2. New Love in Town by Europe

3. When You Love Me by Martina McBride (who the book is dedicated in part to.)

4. I’ll Cry For You by Europe

5.I’m the One by Mitch Malloy (my favorite singer, who I got to see in concert and say hello to last weekend. He’s the new lead singer for Great White but I love his solo work.)

6. Sweet Salvation by The Cult

7. Wait for Sleep by Dream Theater

8. Mr. Ego (Take Me Down) by Helloween

9. When I See You Smile by Bad English

10. Where I Used to Have a Heart by Martina McBride

11. Lucy by Hanson

12. Love is on the Way by Saigon Kick

13. Let It All Go duet by Birdy and RHODES

14. Father Time by Richie Sambora

What songs would you add to the Perilous Confessions soundtrack or mood music playlist?

Ducklings in a Row

 

Being in between projects can take its toll on a writer (or any creative sort.) Last week on Twitter I saw an image with the following uncredited quote:

“Writing is the only intoxication that keeps the writer sober.”

That’s so true! During the past three years of heavy writing and editing, I’ve tried to pace myself and take breaks between finishing a draft and starting the next manuscript or editing round, but I turned anxious and jittery within a few days of idleness. Now I get that way after half a day.

Addiction?

Possibly.

I’ve been without an active project over forty-eight hours now. Granted I have eight manuscripts of The Possession Chronicles in various stages of editing, I haven’t started a round on one since I completed the seventh draft of book eight Sunday night. Being sickly (lovely sinus issues) the past several days has slowed me further. I’ve spent time reading, resting, and increasing my marketing outreach, but seeing my daughter’s expertly displayed collections of her beloved Palace Pets and Littlest Pet Shop figures got me looking at my own spaces.

I need to focus on personal/family for a bit. The other day I played books in my China cabinet—where I keep my antique and vintage books. (It smells lovely in there! Dorothy Eden is a favorite Gothic author of mine.)

Up next: tackling the top of the filing cabinets, and maybe the dust bunnies under the furniture. Here’s to keeping busy to battle the possessed by projects demons.

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?

Weeding Through It

This past week I was struck with plot problems, which coincided with both a beta reader critique as well as a Revise and Resubmit from a publishing company. One major issue was pacing and the other was that I missed the mark on a key turning point for two main characters, which in turn reflected on other issues needing to be strengthened. Yes, this is for book one in the Gothic family saga that’s possessed my time, energy, and effort the past two years. And since this issue was pointed out in the first manuscript the effects will ripple through the seven other stories in the series.

After my initial freak out—which I let simmer over night—I read through the critique/suggestions again and decided to turn to the place I go when I need to plot: the yard. Yes, it’s January but on the Gulf Coast there’s always yardwork to be done. After the last freeze, the remainder of the lantana plants were ready to be pruned for the season and the flower bed was in need of weeding.

So I took my pensive thoughts, grabbed the wheelbarrow and pruners, pulled on my gloves, and set to work. By the first half-hour I knew the problem wasn’t as big as I feared. The situations, people, and history were there already, I just hadn’t dug into that corner of the character’s past thoroughly because I didn’t want to wallow in that part of his dark life. As I worked, I allowed my mind to wander and focused on two despicable people associated with the character in question that I knew could be involved. It was easy to narrow down the right one once I gave myself permission to dig deeper.

After about an hour, I knew which minor character would be the catalyst and began forming the outline of a new character from the shadows of the past I’d kept locked away. The new character was always there, just not named or explored.

With the situation, characters, and history mapped, I processed where in the manuscript the information could be placed. As organically as the history came to me, it was clear to see that there were natural places to insert the backstory into the manuscript without jarring or taking away what was already there. Looking at the coming manuscripts, the revelation only solidifies the anguish and choices he will make in the stories as the saga unfolds. The history was there all along, I only needed to prune away the unnecessary layers hiding the base of the character’s life.

When all else fails, go to the garden.

Where do you go to think?

Silence is Golden

Silence on the blog means I’ve been busy.

How busy?

I did the math and in twenty-one months I wrote 718,447 words and edited six manuscripts between three and fifteen times (the newest one only three times so far.) My last project totaled 105,689 words in fifty-three days. The most cumbersome one finished the first draft at 132,768 words. I’ve whittled it down to 123,787 in six drafts but it still needs more tidying up.

Do I have anything to show for all this work?

The satisfaction of knowing I can now fast draft.

Larger than life characters living in my mind.

Massive amounts of notes/research/photographs/mood music.

Some amazing critiques from writing buddies.

A few rejection letters.

Several “we want to see more” notes.

And patience, lots of (anxious) patience.

If you’ve followed my journey on social media or elsewhere, you’ve probably heard that I’m working on a historical Gothic series for adults. That’s what these hundreds of thousands of words are for, that’s what has caused my housekeeping skills to lapse, and my brain to forget other things. I’ve been living, breathing, and following these characters through the Edwardian Era in the Mobile Bay area for almost two years now and I look forward to the time I can share more with everyone.

For now, you can see sneak peeks at some of the inspiration for the characters and settings on two Pinterest boards. And on Wednesdays from my Twitter account I participate in #1linewed, which shares one line from a work-in-progress based on the chosen theme for the day. So check there for tidbits from these characters. (This week, August 16, the theme is “song.”)

Here’s to hoping all this blog silence turns to many books for you to read in the months and years ahead. And, of course, extra information and news can be found when I send out a monthly-ish newsletter.

And, as a side note, check out this fabulous list by The Grateful American Foundation for Best Books for Kids. (Hint: FORTITUDE is on there!)

Happy Autumn

Yes, it’s that magical time of the year when the weather cools and spirits invigorate from the break of summer heat! Though months have passed since I last posted, I’ve been productive in other avenues, like writing a new manuscript and working on edits on the multi-book Gothic Horror.

Now that I’m in between projects, I’m taking a week or two to catch up on long over-due things like blogging, cleaning, and organizing. This year has been one of creativity and my living spaces showcase that artistic chaos. The next few posts will feature some highlights from this past year, like new tidbits about Fortitude and Corroded. To start things off, here’s the newest item: a photo from my recent book signing at Christmas Jubilee market hosted by Mobile’s Junior League at the Mobile Convention Center.

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