Online Event!

In celebration of my critique partner’s debut novel that releases tomorrow, June 15, I’m participating in my first official event in over a year. WooHoo!

The event is a Zoom conversation all about Southern Gothic, with just a few highlights about each of our new releases. It’s FREE and hosted by The Haunted Book Shop here in downtown Mobile, Alabama, but everyone is welcome to join us–even if you aren’t local.

Register here to receive the link and come hang out with us for an hour. Candice Marley Conner‘s Southern Gothic YA mystery The Existence of Bea Pearl is the main release we’re celebrating. Besides me and Candice, author Jodi Cain Smith is joining us. She is the founder of the Mobile Literary Festival, which I’ve been lucky enough to work on with her from the beginning. Besides that connection, all of us (including Angela from The Haunted Book Shop) are Mobile Writers Guild members, so it will be like a literary family reunion.

If you have any interest in Southern Gothic or want to learn what it’s all about, join us. There will be a Q&A at the end too.

And, one more time, in case you missed the embedded hyper-link above. Here’s the registration information.

Short and Sale

After ice and snow flurries in January 2014.

As reported two weeks ago, I spent a lot of time on edits this month. My short story for the next Mobile Writers Guild anthology is ready to submit. “Dashing Through the Snow” features a historic snowfall in Mobile, Alabama, and takes place pre-Possession Chronicles, with a few of the characters before they come of age. (Hello, young Sean Spunner!)

Snow is rare within the city of Mobile, a sub-tropical zone. The average snowfall happens once a decade, but snow flurries (little to no accumulation) happen more often–maybe twice that. The first time I saw snow falling was the winter I moved to Alabama, December 1996. I had seen lots of snow in the mountains in California, but never watched it fall. It’s magical!

Speaking of winter…there’s a sale happening now through the month of May for Homeroom Heroes. The digital edition is only $0.99, just in time for teacher appreciation days. If you aren’t familiar with this anthology from Bienvenue Press, here’s the overview.

“Awesome. Bold. Creative.

Homeroom Heroes brings you seven Christmas romances that celebrate our teachers and the compassion and dedication they bring to the classroom everyday. From paranormal to contemporary to historical, there’s something here to fill everyone with the spirit of the season. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Acadiana Writing Project.”

If you’ve missed out on my short story in this book, now is a good time to add it to your digital collection. Even if you save it to read when that season rolls around again, take advantage of the sale price and help out a good cause: Acadiana Writing Project in Louisiana.

“Natural Selection in Life and Love” was inspired by events in my family history–which is rare for The Possession Chronicles. Yes, I had an ancestor lose his job over discussing Charles Darwin. To find out more about the short story and the events from my family history archives, read the opening note from the December 2020 newsletter. (And if you aren’t subscribed to my monthly newsletter, you can remedy that from this link as well.)

It’s always the right season to relax with a book. Keep reading and enjoying your Spring.

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).

Two Years Old

Perilous Confessions, book one of The Possession Chronicles, was published two years ago. Since then, there’s been seven related short stories published and the first five novels in the series are available. And it all began when the editor of my first two novels (Fortitude and Corroded) encouraged me to try my hand at horror in the autumn of 2015. I went with Southern Gothic, though a couple of the books (Murmurs of Evil and Tendrils of Passion, which I wrote first) are considered Gothic horror.

I’m sure the news is in your part of the world is similar, but the big announcement along the Gulf Coast is the 2021 carnival season being put on hold/cancelled/adapted. People are still decorating, buying king cake, and eating Moon Pies, but large gatherings like the masquerades and parades aren’t happening this winter. That sounds like a good excuse to dive into Mardi Gras seasons of the past.

Now is a great time to visit or revisit the book where it all began–or did it? Besides being written after I completed what is now books two and three in the series, I also wrote a prequel short story to The Possession Chronicles after writing all eight novels. Have you read “Masked Flaws”? It takes place the winter before Perilous Confessions, during the infamous 1904 carnival season mentioned in the first book. The year of Edmund Easton’s initiation into Mystics of Dardenne.

You can read “Masked Flaws” in the Mobile Writers Guild’s Mardi Gras Pieces anthology or claim a free digital download of the short story after subscribing to my monthly newsletter.

Do you have a favorite Mardi Gras themed read?