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…

Best Books Article on Shepherd

This past month, I had the opportunity to create a Top 5 list of my choosing for a new reader website, Shepherd. I decided to fangirl over my favorite historical Gothic family saga books. You can find my feature here.

MY TOP 5 PICKS.

Next month, the Shepherd site will get a new front page, topic pages, and search option. They are still building and growing–and looking for authors to create more lists. They were professional (I worked with three different people over the process) and efficient. I recommend the website for both readers and authors.

P.S. Barren Devotion‘s release is soon coming–possibly this week in the ebook form. The paperback is being delayed, but I’ll keep you posted on the availability.

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.

COVER REVEAL for BARREN DEVOTION

This weekend brought a happy surprise. My publisher commissioned the cover art for Barren Devotion, the next novel in The Possession Chronicles. The cover–along with all the others in the series plus the newest edition of Fortitude–was created by Ashley at Redbird Designs. She’s super talented and easy to work with. This time around, she merged my chosen background image (the actual cathedral in downtown Mobile that the characters attend) with the model (representing Melissa), added the stormy sky element to allow the lettering to shine, and did a lot more touches that make it ooze Gothic vibes.

I’m beyond pleased with it and excited to be able to use an actual setting location for the image for the first time. (No, I haven’t forgotten I promised a post about the Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. It was on schedule for this week, but is now bumped to later in the month to allow this indulgence.) Take a look at the series. One more book to go after this one.

Here’s the synopsis for Barren Devotion. If you aren’t caught up on the series there will be spoilers. If you’ve read through Haunted Remains, including the sneak peek of the prologue for Barren Devotion, this won’t be too traumatizing.

_______

While World War I has the globe in turmoil, the Melling and Davenport clans have their own unrest. After the shattering loss of their youngest child, Frederick and Melissa mourn in their own ways, but Melissa’s isolation leads to further heartache that stretches the bounds of repair.

Father Claudio De Fiore is always first in line to comfort, but his moments with grieving Melissa Davenport eclipse his vows to the church. Will he go too far when the previously independent woman buckles under her sorrows?

Longtime friend and employee to Lucy, Naomi Joyner has witnessed everything amid the turbulent life of the Eastons and Mellings. Trapped between the draw of her first lover and being a loyal companion to declining Lucy, Naomi must decide if she wants to continue with the never-ending drama of the Mellings.

Find out who will survive the war years in this formidable installment of The Possession Chronicles.

_______

Yes, Melissa, Claudio, and Naomi are the point-of-view characters this time, but there are plenty of scenes with Alexander and everyone else–including the Dauphin Island characters. Who are you most looking forward to seeing?

Setting locations of The Possession Chronicles: Part 1

To follow up my two previous posts focusing on the homes of the characters in The Possession Chronicles, I’m going to take a few weeks to showcase other setting locations. First off, here is a 2018 aerial view of downtown Mobile, Alabama. It’s taken from the north, looking south–so the opposite of a map if you pull one up to see more. Mobile River is on the left/east (see the cruise ship–there’s a terminal for it on the riverfront).

I’ve marked some key streets and locations–some of which no longer exist, but I’ll note them below.


A: The historic Courthouse (no longer there–it’s now Mardi Gras Park. The current “Government Plaza” is the large building two properties to the right.)

B: Battle House Hotel (still at the corner of Royal and St. Francis, rebuilt from the 1905 fire–it really happened as it did in Perilous Confessions).

C: Bienville Square (with the fountain, still there!)

D: Marking the spot between Melling and Associates (obviously a fake business, but a real location with an updated building currently there) and the Aethelwulf Club, the exclusive men’s club inspired by a real one–mentioned most often in the short stories.

E: Alexander’s “duplex” (on St. Francis Street, private home, still standing)

F: The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (It was made Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception about sixty years ago–and as such, now has crypts for the bishops in the basement.)

G: Temperance Hall, sight of Mardi Gras masquerades and more (torn down in 1923, new building in its place)

BONUS: The three main roads that run eat/west are marked:

Government Street–the courthouse was on it and the Mellings’ mansion would be about a mile to the right/west off the photograph.

Dauphin Street–a major shopping area and trolley line in the day (still shopping and entertainment/arts district–similar to the French Quarter in that other Southern city that also celebrates Mardi Gras though Mobile started it).

St. Francis Street–often mentioned (Melling and Associates, the duplex, etc. are on it)

(Conti Street runs between Government and Dauphin Street, but it isn’t notable to the plot lines in the series.)

BONUS FYI:

Frederick’s house would be three blocks down/north and three blocks right/west from “G”, but State Street is off the map.


The Eastons’ house is about 3 miles to the right/west from the cathedral–between Dauphin and Government streets off Catherine St.

The original location of Trinity Episcopal (Frederick Davenport’s congregation)–it’s now several miles to the west down Dauphin Street after being moved brick by brick–was at the corner of St. Anthony and Jackson Streets, right about at the bottom right corner of the photograph.

Monroe Park, no longer in existence, would be a mile or more south, on Mobile Bay, after Mobile River meets the bay. Location of several dates/outings for characters. It had the roller coaster, Yacht Club pier, and more.

Now, which places would you like to learn more about? I’ve already had a request for the cathedral, so I’ll share about that next time for sure.

P.S. Here’s a teaser for the next novel in The Possession Chronicles. The expected release date is December 14, 2021, so plan to add it to your winter reading list. There are several holiday scenes in it and nothing says “Merry Christmas” more than dysfunctional family drama, right? And yes, that’s Mobile’s cathedral in the image. Cover reveal for Barren Devotion coming soon!