Springing Along

After finishing the first draft of my latest project at the end of March, I took a few days off to reset my mind. Powering through 118,000 words in just over two months merits a mini-break. Then, I dove into what I think was my final round–or next to final round–of self edits (draft twenty-four) of Barren Devotion, the seventh novel in The Possession Chronicles.

One of the period pieces of photography that helped me set the mood for Barren Devotion.

Yesterday, I completed the first draft of a short story to submit to the next Mobile Writers Guild anthology. The deadline is May first, so I’ll be powering through edits the next few weeks. I even gave it the first round of edits last night after only a couple hours away from it–not the best thing to do, but I’m on a time crunch. Generally, the longer you’re away from a project, the easier it is to see the flaws. Fortunately, I have just enough time to submit the story to my critique group so it can have more eyes on it before submitting. That’s always a good thing–especially for writers like me with dyslexic tendencies.

It looks like the rest of April will be spent editing the short story, while waiting to hear from the editor of Haunted Remains, the 6th novel in The Possession Chronicles. The next book releases this July and several editing rounds with a professional will be happening before then. And the cover art–I always look forward to that.

I already have an idea for another project, but it’s on hold until I see to these deadline projects. I tend to get obsessive about projects and find it difficult to balance more than one at a time, so I hold back the new ideas until I get a clear creative calendar. That doesn’t work for everyone. A lot of people I know, if they don’t act on an idea, they lose it. For me, it builds up like pressure behind a dam and when I get to it, it spews out. Not a pretty visual, but first drafts are messy.

At least, that’s how it’s worked for me the past few years. Creativity has an ebb and flow, just like the rest of life. I used to not be able to fast draft. Now I can–except for last year. It took me thirteen months to draft one novel when the previous six novels took an average of two months each. But this last one put me back on my fast draft schedule. I don’t force it–I go with it. Life is too short to be overly hard on yourself, especially with creativity. Take breaks, reset, allow your output to change with life’s demands. We’re human.

Coming Soon–and Revisiting an Old Title

First off, let’s flash back a year. Right before my part of the country went into pandemic mode, Mobile Writers Guild celebrated a new release. Valentine’s Day Pieces is the third in the anthology series by this Mobile Bay area writers group I am happy to be part of. We all kept busy writing throughout the trying year of 2020 and released another title in time for Halloween.

As typical, my anthology offering can be read alone, but if you want to get the most out of your Possession Chronicles reading experience, collect these short stories. They dig deeper into the side characters and give insights (secrets!) into some of the main players you won’t find anywhere else. (My favorite example of that is a juicy tidbit about Ruth Melling you will only find in the short “Grace Shadowed” in Finally Home. Or maybe Father Claudio De Fiore’s escapades in New Orleans…)

How many are in your collection?

Along those lines, my next release is my first ever novella. Chronologically, it’s #1.5, but I wrote it after completing all eight novels in the series. Picking up the day after Perilous Confessions ends, Mosaic of Seduction digs into the twisted Melling family tree like you’ve never seen before.

Set in 1905 between the finale of a notorious love affair and the demonic infestation of Seacliff Cottage, Mosaic of Seduction creates ripples on both sides of Mobile Bay as Eliza Melling orchestrates a love triangle too devious for polite society.

At eighteen, free-spirited Eliza’s artistic drive is overshadowed only by her thirst for the forbidden. She wants her appetites quenched—both creatively and physically—but her lust for freedom rules them all.

Newly arrived in America, Deacon Claudio De Fiore had set aside the natural man in his quest to serve God, but when his desire to protect Eliza eclipses his training to become a priest, he must decide where his true allegiance lies. In a scandal only a Melling could produce, Eliza entraps the deacon while publicly courting a man from her elite social circle.

Step into one of the most tumultuous years of The Possession Chronicles in this tantalizing novella spanning the Mardi Gras season that began in Perilous Confessions and ending after the birth of a tragic new year.

Cover reveal and ordering link coming soon! This will be a FREE digital download for all, but also available for purchase in paperback. Get ready to learn more about Eliza, Claudio, and Sean–who you’ve read about in the last two anthology shorts (Halloween Pieces and Homeroom Heroes).

New Christmas Story

It’s nearly here! The third instalment of the Bienvenue Press charity anthology series, Homeroom Heroes, releases December 15, 2020. Each story in this collection features an independent woman working in the education system. From historical to contemporary and suspense to paranormal, these winter themed romances are sure to make for cozy reading.

My offering, “Natural Selection in Life and Love”, is Possession Chronicles #6.1. I write my short stories as stand alone tales so anyone picking up the anthology can follow it, but there are tidbits included in them that readers of The Possession Chronicles will not be able to find anywhere else. (Example: “Grace Shadowed” in Finally Home gives a scandalous tidbit–just one line–about Ruth Melling that is spilled no where else in the series. And it’s juicy!) For those seeking to read The Possession Chronicles in order, this story is best read after Hostile Charms–there will be a spoiler if you haven’t completed the last novel released.

If Sean Spunner’s name sounds familiar, it’s because it is. Sean has been in the background as the “chipped tooth Dardenne” since Perilous Confessions (book one) through Hostile Charms (book five), but he’s also made brief appearances is shorts like the prequel “Masked Flaws” and last Christmas’s “Grace Shadowed”. Most recently he starred in my Mobile Writers Guild anthology short “The Portrait of Eliza Melling”, which released in October 2020’s Halloween Pieces.

My historical reference for Sean Spunner. Members of my readers group know I call him my book boyfriend.

But we’re not done with Sean Spunner yet. This winter, I have a novella coming out and he plays a major role in it. Mosaic of Seduction, Possession Chronicles #1.5, tells the story of the year between Perilous Confessions and Murmurs of Evil, February 1905-January 1906. It’s told through the point of view of Eliza Melling and Deacon Claudio De Fiore. Yes, it tells that story–the one readers have always wanted to know more about–and Sean Spunner is tangled in the middle of it. Look for more news about this forthcoming novella in the weeks ahead. Oh, and it will be a FREE digital book for all, not just Kindle Unlimited. Happy holidays!

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?

The Rundown

The newest release is here!

Find “Safe Embrace”, a Fortitude-Possession Chronicles short story, in Valentine’s Day Pieces, an anthology by Mobile Writers Guild. It will be available locally at a couple indie bookshops, including The Haunted Book Shop, but it’s also for sale digitally.

As a reminder, you don’t have to read the short stories to follow the story line of The Possession Chronicles. The shorts typically fall between the books (“Safe Embrace” is #3.8) and just show a bit more insight and character growth–often of those who do not take the lead in the novels. Examples: the prequel short “Masked Flaws” is about Edmund Easton and “Grace Shadowed”, #3.5, found in Finally Home, features Grace Anne Marley and Dr. John Woodslow.

Last weekend, I was able to catch my favorite singer in action. I’ve been listening to Mitch Malloy for two-thirds of my life and never tire of his vocals. Over the years, his music has inspired me and helped me with several different writing projects. I dedicated the new edition of Fortitude to him.

 

Yesterday, I revealed the cover for Scarred Memories, the fourth book in The Possession Chronicles, in my readers’ group. It’s striking and bold–and brighter than the others with its color scheme–while still keeping a Gothic vibe. Next week, it will be shown to my newsletter subscribers in the February edition before it goes out on social media. Finally, you’ll find it here on my next blog post in about two weeks. If that’s not soon enough, subscribe, join, or follow any of those other options.

Happy reading!