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.

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!