Too Close to Home

Each October, horror authors converge on a site to share stories about one of the best holidays of the year: Halloween. We talk about spooky stories, some of them true, some of them not. We share information about our books, and maybe even do a giveaway.

Today I talk about growing up in a haunted town and in a haunted house. This post was more difficult to share than I expected it to be. I’ve been flighty about even admitting this to myself for a very long time, so getting it put up online is a big step.

Drop by and enjoy! Maybe even leave a comment. Halloween Haunts: Too Close to Home

After all, these only come once a year…

The Dark Lands

I’m sitting here listening to Hurricane Michael dump tons of rain here south of Atlanta. I’ve been keeping tabs on it all day trying to see where it was going and how strong it was going to be. We’re just now getting the worst of the rain and wind, and we have an interior room we’ve prepped in case a tornado warning comes through. It really is the perfect kind of weather to work on a book though, especially when you’re tackling a particularly dark scene.

I haven’t been posting updates here as much as I’ve wanted. Mostly because I’ve barely been able to squeeze in time to write let alone make regular posts. This weekend I’ll be over at Park 42’s 2nd Annual Fall Festival, a local event with all sorts of Halloween fun – from costume contests to apple cider. Next weekend I’ll be helping my sister out at an art show at the Fall Festival on Ponce in downtown Atlanta. And the weekend after that, Atlanta Horror authors will be doing a Fireside Smores and Horror Stories event, which is exactly what it sounds like.

As usual, October is a heck of a busy month, but I’m happy to reach a milestone on Broken! Finally hit that 20k mark!

 

Project: Broken

A land has fallen. An escape was made. It’s a victory of sorts, but at what price?

Shaleigh has made a terrible mistake, one she may not ever be able to fix. Lost and in a strange land with anger and death all around her, she must navigate her way through treacherous lands on her quest for redemption. Along the way she’ll have to negotiate with the mercurial Queen of the Fae, survive the dangers of the Masked King’s realm, and seek out a terrifying fire dragon.

With two powerful beings hot on her trail, Shaleigh has no choice but to keep moving, or else face the dangerous magic of the Madness that has already caused so much pain and heartache. With her sights on helping her friends and her heart longing for home, Shaleigh is determined, but will it be enough?

BROKEN is Book 2 of the Stolen series

Words Written:
9/15 – 1,028 (Transcribed from hand-written journal)
9/19 – 1,058
9/22 – 1,785
9/25 – 699
9/26 – 1,119
10/2 – 388
10/10 – 1,412

Current Word Count: 20,128 (25%!!)

Progress:
As Tolkien famously said, “Out of the Frying Pan and into the Fire”

They’re in the Dark Lands now with all that it implies. From Black Dogs to Banshees, Shaleigh may not be ready for the mind games she’ll have to play to survive. And she has no choice, she must play by the Masked King’s rules.

Next Up:
How will she get them out of this mess? How will she convince the Masked King that they should be permitted to live?

Commentary:
I’m so happy to have reached the 25% mark on this piece! It was a struggle getting words out today, mostly because Hurricane Michael has been preoccupying much of my mind today. I wanted to sit down and get writing in on Broken though because I felt like it had been too long since I got to work on this. I really love this section of this book and how it’s affecting the characters.

This book is going to have two POVs throughout the piece, so there’s a whole second plotline I’ll need to go back through and write. I think once I’m done with this section, I’ll start targeting that so I can make sure everything shakes out properly for the ending. I’m very much a pantser, but when things get really complex, I have no problem creating outlines to use. I had to do that for Stolen’s ending, and I’m already seeing that Broken’s ending will likely need that as well.

Unexpected Kindness

Can y’all believe that October is just around the corner? It really is my favorite time of the year, when the weather isn’t too hot down where I live. Haunted houses, spooky hay rides, hedge mazes, apple cider, candy corn, and Halloween parties! Before we dive into a month full of spooky fun, it’s time to serve up a nice slice of optimism for your Friday. I’m very happy to be part of the “We Are The World Blogfest” once again – cause the world needs to be a little bit more bright and cheery.

Imagine you’re on your morning commute, stuck in slow traffic and going around back roads on the more impoverished side of the city. The traffic light ahead seems to be running on slow motion and you’re pretty sure the driver in front of you dropped something on the floor beside her cause she keeps bending over to reach it. It’s a Wednesday and you’re tired but you’re only ten minutes away from work. You’ve got some nice tunes blaring off your phone, so that helps.

Then you turn to notice a women sitting on the side of the road. She’s camped out on top of a large drainage grate, wearing a spaghetti strap shirt and leggings. She’s homeless, you can tell from the mounds of sheets and blankets around her. You feel bad for a moment because you realize it’s like you’re watching someone in their bedroom and it feels wrong. The woman is smiling though and smoothing out the sheets she’s sitting cross-legged on, as though expecting company. That’s when you notice the police car behind her.

You inch the car forward a bit while the traffic light goes from green to red again, still glancing over to find out what’s going on. A female office gets out of the cop car, and your heart sinks for the homeless lady. You hope she isn’t about to be arrested or something. But then the officer pulls out a bag of take-out from her passenger seat and brings it over to give to the homeless lady. They’re all smiles and the officer hangs around to chat with her for a moment while she digs into the fresh, hot breakfast.

That was my commute one humid morning, and yes, I did tear up at the sight. It was one of those brief moments of kindness that just breaks your heart and stitches it together at the same time. It makes you have faith in humanity again. If an officer can take the time out of her busy morning to help a person in need, then surely we can too.

I figured this was also a good time to announce that in October, I’ll be participating in the Authors For Families auction!

“We’re a group of primarily debut novelists eager to do what we can to reunite immigrant children with their parents, and to combat inhumane family separation policies.”

I’ll be giving away a signed copy of The She-Wolf of Kanta to whoever wins the bid, and I may be tossing in some additional swag along with it.

Please share and invite anyone who you think would like to not only get a copy of my work, but would also like to donate to a very good cause!

Happy Cover Reveal, Stolen!

Stolen has been a book that I’ve been working on since April 2014. When Parliament House Press offered a contract, I was at work and had to keep from squeeing aloud with joy!

I’m so happy to now be able to reveal the cover for my debut novel, Stolen, Book I of the Stolen Series. Coming January 22, 2019 from Parliament House Press.

 

Look at how gorgeous it turned out! I absolutely love the colors, the menace of it, the little touches of fairies and the font. I also love that there’s a person of cover on this book, something that is so rare to find. I love the trees reaching out to her, but the way she walks with determination. There’s just so much here that makes me so very happy! The more you zoom in, the more you see all the careful details that have been added in.

Here’s the synopsis:

It’s difficult taking care of a delusional father by yourself. Sixteen-year-old Shaleigh Mallet would rather explore and photograph dilapidated buildings than cater to her father’s dark episodes. But when she’s kidnapped by a creature who carries her atop a flying bicycle into another world, she realizes this wasn’t the escape she wanted.

In a kingdom known as the Garden, where minotaurs pull carriages and parties are held in hot air balloons, Madam Cloom and her faerie servant, Teagan, rule over the land with incredible but terrifying magic. Shaleigh must prove that she is the reincarnation of a long-dead ruler, not because she believes it, but because it’s her only chance to survive. With the help of a trespassing faerie, a stoatling, and a living statue, Shaleigh hopes to outwit everyone. She aims to break the bonds of servitude and finally make her way home. What she doesn’t realize, however, is that she’s playing right into the hands of a far worse enemy…

Make sure you add it to your To-Read list on Goodreads!

PS: You might notice some color changes around here! I thought I’d update things a bit to match more with Stolen’s color theme. 🙂

 

Bullet Journaling as an Author: A Sticker A Day

Since my first blog post about using trackers in my bullet journal was so popular, I thought it couldn’t hurt to do more in this vein. Clearly there are a number of authors out there looking for ways to keep on track when working on their novels. Heck, I was that way too not very long ago.

While trackers are wonderful for long-term planning and smashing out goals, what motivates you on the short term? I know during the work week, I don’t go flipping to my progress chart very often. I’m too busy fixing the nuts and bolts of work and life every day. So I wanted to find a way to give myself a little bit of a boost for squeezing in maybe just ten minutes of writing over my lunch, or maybe dedicating a whole hour one evening to tackling that scene, or giving myself the space to work on edits. Do you know what I found was super inspiring? Stickers.

Yes, I know, it’s very grade school. I remember helping my mom set up sticker boards for her classroom for a number of years, and seeing it slowly fill up as kids did awesome things. A sticker at the end of the day was a way to easily see how great you did, and made it easy to look back over the week to see how you did.

Guess what? It works for us adults too!

You can buy little flower sticker sheets at Amazon or Etsy. They’re adorable, and just the little burst of inspiration I needed to keep going some days. If I had a rough week, just seeing a bundle of stickers spread out over the pages made me proud. That was work on something I enjoyed. That was proof of what I accomplished, even if my word count had barely nudged, I did something worth celebrating.

Lately I’ll admit I haven’t written on my WIP as much as I would like, and seeing my pages lack those stickers makes me sad. Even their absence is motivating. But I’m getting that inspiration rolling again.

Of course, this little trick could work for anything that you want to work on a little bit each day. When my life gets really crazy busy though, I find that my writing time suffers. It’s hard to pull the words out and it’s hard to delve into my fantasy world, the characters, or the plot when life is pulling my attention in a dozen different directions.

Having an easy way to glimpse my progress helps immensely. Remember, all it takes is a sticker a day.