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.

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.

Cover Reveal for Mosaic of Seduction

Cover art for the next release–my first (and so far, only planned) novella–is here! Though a series of eight main novels, The Possession Chronicles continues to grow with short stories, this novella, and my current works-in-progress: spin-off novels. Welcome Eliza Rose Melling to the the cover art world of this Southern Gothic family saga.

Cover design for Mosaic of Seduction (and the rest of The Possession Chronicles) by Asley Byland of Redbird Designs.

I finished the first draft of Mosaic of Seduction a year and a half ago. It was an interesting feat to juggle because it is #1.5 and the first two books in the series were already published–and the third in final edits–when I wrote this one. (Translation: everything was set in stone, as opposed to when I wrote all eight novels before publication of the first and could go back to earlier books and tweak things to fit the evolving narrative.)

While I knew the basics of what happened between Perilous Confessions and Murmurs of Evil, I didn’t have answers to all the details. Eliza Melling’s side of the story was more colorful than I expected, and like her father, she didn’t play fair. She threw me some massive curveballs–like being engaged–that I had to make work with the already published storyline. And Claudio! He didn’t share with Magdalene half of what he went through with Eliza at Seacliff Cottage. Filling in this missing year from the timeline was both fun and frightening.

Be on the lookout for Mosaic of Seduction. “Buy” links will be forthcoming–within the next few weeks. It’s a quiet release, no set release date, but it will be FREE to download digitally from your favorite online bookseller. A paperback edition will also be available for purchase for those collecting the physical series. Enjoy this special addition to The Possession Chronicles and the unfiltered view it gives you into the Melling family dynamics.

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!