The Writing Fall

Funny how life follows the seasons. Right now, it feels like the harvest for me. Several seeds, some sown years ago, are coming to fruition.

First: my novel, The Trouble on Highway One, is available for pre-sale on Amazon. Release date is October 30. This is the second story in the Traiteur Trilogy, featuring the protagonist Lacey Becnel as she struggles to understand and utilize her supernatural healing powers.

This is the seed that was planted a long time ago. I began writing it after the first story, The Incident Under the Overpass, was drafted, but not yet published. So it’s been a long road. (A long highway?) I had to mention it first, lest Husband Tim accuse me of “burying the lead.” (Which he does from time to time).

Second: I have an installment in OUTSIDE IN TAKES A STAB: 139 New Perspectives on 139 Buffy Stories by 139 Writers. This is an anthology on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and my essay covers “The Dark Age” episode. My piece begins with the sentence, “I hate vampires.” I know certain members of my family will read that, and immediately follow it up with Anakin Skywalker’s whiny soliloquy on sand from Attack of the Clones. (A not-so-inside joke for anyone familiar with the “I hate sand” meme.) OUTSIDE IN TAKES A STAB is available for pre-order, currently scheduled to release November 2.

And finally: an excerpt from my short story, “Lucky Eight,” will appear in the upcoming Louisiana’s Emerging Writers publication. It’s set to publish October 23, and should be available for pre-order from Z Publishing within the next week or so.

Emerging, indeed! Feels pretty good, I have to admit. 🙂

Cover Reveal!

I’m very excited to reveal the cover of my second novel, The Trouble on Highway One! I’m working to make it available for pre-sale on Amazon, and I hope to accomplish this in the next few days. Once I do this, I’ll announce its release date (I’m aiming for October 30).

Here’s what I have for the blurb, so far:

Things are looking up for recent widow Lacey Becnel. A short-term job assignment on California’s beautiful Central Coast, and a new love interest fill her days after a tumultuous summer. But as she discovers more about the mysterious traiteur power bestowed upon her, she will learn that she is not the only one with potent, supernatural abilities.

I’ll have more details next week!

The Writing Spectrum

Last weekend was jam-packed with writerly endeavors. I spent all day Saturday down in Houma, Louisiana, at the Jambalaya Writers’ Conference. But Friday and Sunday each had significant entries, too. So herewith, in chronological order, the highlights:

Friday at Community Book Center: I had the pleasure of meeting Jan Miles of Brown Bird Books. She presented The Post-Racial Negro Green Book, which documents acts of racial bias against African Americans in the U.S., from 2013 to 2016. She read from a list of incidents—some from the recent years captured in the book, and some from the Civil Rights era—and had the audience guess the century they occurred. We got many wrong; it was an amazingly eye-opening exercise. She compiled this archive “for the sake of review, consideration, discussion, and action.” I would love to do my part to help spread the word.

Saturday at the Terrebonne Parish Main Library: This library hosted the 15th Annual Jambalaya Writers’ Conference. Houma is about an hour’s drive southwest of New Orleans, and this was my first time attending this event. I was so impressed by all the new voices I encountered; here are a few who stood out:

  • I started the day with a presentation by Chanelle Benz, author of a story collection titled The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead. These stories feature a wide range of characters from different centuries, so she was the perfect person to present the topic: “Write What You Don’t Know: Finding Diverse Characters.”
  • Maurice Carlos Ruffin, a New Orleans-based writer, moderated a panel on setting (called “Where to Hide the Bodies.”) He did an admirable job of making sure all the authors on the panel had equal time. (I recall him saying he’s a lawyer in addition to a writer, I think he was using that set of skills). Random House will publish his first novel, We Cast a Shadow, early next year.
  • R.L. Stine, author of the Goosebumps series, is certainly not a new voice. While I definitely know who he is, he’s never been in my sphere, since I was far from the target demographic when Goosebumps hit its peak popularity. But it was great to hear one of the best-selling writers of all time talk about his writing process, how he got his start (as a humor writer, Jovial Bob Stine), and read from the really funny letters he’s received from children over the years.

Sunday at home: You always hear how writing is a solitary pursuit. That’s one of the reasons I’m drawn to it, I think. So, there had been a lot of people and lots of activity the twenty-four hours prior, and I HAD to finish the manuscript for my second novel. I had promised to submit to my publisher before the weekend was up.

I spent the entire day at my computer, only getting up to run two loads of laundry, and put a Costco lasagna in the oven. It was a beautiful day outside, it would have been perfect for a run. And, I could hear bands all day, at the finish line of the Rock’n’Roll marathon, just a few blocks away in City Park. But, I got into a massive disagreement with Word and inconsistent formatting of quotation marks, which ate up the break time I had hoped to take, for a quick jaunt into City Park.

All’s well that ends well, though. I submitted the manuscript around 10:30 pm Sunday, and had a contract in my inbox by 7:15 am Monday morning. The Trouble on Highway One is tentatively set to release in September. 🙂

The Second Time Around

The second time is
So much better, baby
(The second time around)
And I make it better
Than the first time

—Lyrics from “The Second Time Around” by Shalamar

I remember this song from my youth. It’s from Shalamar’s album Big Fun, which Wikipedia tells me was released the day after my tenth birthday. Like a lot of songs from that era, if they received radio airplay, there’s a good chance those lyrics and melodies are lodged somewhere deep in my cerebrum. Just waiting for the right catalyst to release them to get stuck in my current brain.

In this instance, the catalyst has been the work I’m pouring into my second full-length novel. I’m into the final edits, and I remember being at a similar stage with my first one, exactly twenty-four months ago. February 2016.

Shalamar sings “the second time is so much better.” Related to my own efforts, I agree—but on balance. The pressure’s higher this time around, so that has leavened my joy a bit. I guess stress has a way of doing that. But the reason the pressure’s higher is an absolute positive—my publisher has asked me to submit this manuscript. No one was asking first time around. Here are some other ways I agree with Shalamar:

  • Some readers have indicated they want to read the continuation of the story I began in the first one. That’s pretty cool.
  • Working with a developmental editor this time around was a HUGE improvement to the writing process.
  • I’m a touch more confident in my abilities. But just a touch, because I still struggle daily with anxiety, and “am I worthy”-type thoughts.

And finally, there’s the last bit of lyric quoted above. “I make it better than the first time.” On that point, I’m unequivocal. That is my intent, 100%. For every novel and short story I write to improve upon the previous.

There’s a quote I’ll see on social media from time to time, I think it’s from writer and editor David Schlosser: “The only writer to whom you should compare yourself is the writer you were yesterday.”

I think that sums up my thoughts nicely. Enjoy Shalamar’s catchy song, and their super-sparkly outfits:

On Sale Now!

*Special Tuesday edition!

The Incident Under the Overpass is now available on Amazon! In an attempt at courageous self-promotion, I’ll share some endorsements from early reviews:

“Read It If: you like your supernatural romances set in New Orleans. A delight.” –CravenWild.com

“McClane’s debut novel, set in sultry New Orleans, combines mystery, romance, and a touch of the paranormal…Lacey is an engaging heroine…” -Kirkus Reviews

“Lacey has a wry, self-deprecating narrative voice, enlivened by frequent pop-culture references.” -Kirkus Reviews

“It’s a unique story with great characters and it stands out from many other books in this genre.” –By Hook or By Book
“The backdrop feels familiar enough, but as the pages turn Anne McClane peels away the layers to reveal a tale of intrigue laced with old Louisiana spirit ways.” -Ian McNulty, author of A Season of Night and Louisiana Rambles

And here’s a quick synopsis: When Lacey Becnel awakens under an overpass near her home in New Orleans, she does not yet realize that she’s undergone a profound metamorphosis. Nathan, the dangerously attractive man she discovers at her side, provokes as many questions as answers. As Lacey learns of her emergent abilities, she also finds that nothing will protect her from her growing attraction to Nathan, or his perilous fate.

So here’s the thing about self-promotion–I’ve written in earlier posts (one referenced at the top of this page) how it does not come easily to me. It’s one of the reasons I made sure the review excerpts above are all from people I don’t know personally. Their opinion of the book is not muddied by their opinion of me.

It’s also one of the reasons it’s been so delightful to let After Glows handle the publishing. While I still have a responsibility for promoting my work, it’s no longer all on me.

I’ll conclude with this plug: if The Incident Under the Overpass sounds like a story you might enjoy, I hope you’ll check it out. And if you do, I sure hope the “might enjoy” turns into a “definitely enjoyed.”

*Next week, I’ll return to my regularly-scheduled Wednesday programming. 🙂

Witch Wars by T.A. Moorman

Special Tuesday Edition!*

Witch Wars, by fellow After Glows author T. A. Moorman, releases today! It’s available on Amazon (click this link). Here’s a little more about the book:

Tialanna is fated to become the queen of all Underlayes witches. She thinks the worst part of her life is the fact that she’s betrothed to a complete stranger while in love with someone else. She’s in for a rude awakening when she discovers who, and what, she truly is.

Tialanna is about to learn the truth behind several lies, because not only does her life depend on it, but so does the fate of the family she never even knew she had. But hey, life would probably just be boring if she didn’t have to deal with elemental witches, vampires, demons, sorcerers, bindings, spells, lust and betrayal. Right? 

–This book is intended for mature audiences only. It includes depictions of both graphic violence and graphic sex.–

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

When you become a Mom, you begin to put yourself last, and your combat boots begin to collect dust. Going to your child’s PTA meetings in full Gothic, especially industrial regalia, is pretty much frowned upon. Especially by your own children, and your teens would die of a heart attack. But, one should not have to completely stop being themselves, uniqueness is greatness. So all of that darkness is put into words in her books, and designs in her jewelry sold in her GothicMoms DarkCharms shop.

Mother of five beautiful children, but by far, more than just that. T.A. Moorman is an artist, a violinist, a seamstress, a crafter, a writer, a blogger, a reviewer, a dark confidant and a darkly dangerous, fiercely protective friend.

 

*This week and next, I’ll be posting on Tuesday instead of Wednesday.

Cover Reveal!

I’ve been keeping this under wraps for a little while. But now that the relaunch of The Incident Under the Overpass is less than two weeks away, it’s time to reveal the new cover!

The e-book is available for pre-sale on Amazon, with a delivery date of September 19. For new visitors to this space, here’s the blurb:

It’s been fifteen months since Lacey Becnel’s unfaithful husband suddenly passed away, leaving her to sort through her feelings of anger, love, and loss, and wondering where exactly her place in life should be.

But when she awakens under an overpass near her home, next to Nathan—a man she met just hours before in the streets of New Orleans—she begins a journey of discovery that some might call supernatural. In the days that follow, it becomes clear that Nathan might be the target of a murder plot, and Lacey—somehow—has the power to heal.

The more she becomes embroiled in Nathan’s danger, the more confused Lacey becomes about her feelings for him. Will she ever fully understand her abilities, or will the danger surrounding Nathan bring things to an abrupt end?

And for those of you who’ve been following along, this story—my first novel—was picked up by After Glows Publishing earlier this year. It has been such a pleasure to work with them! This time last year, much like Lacey, I was wondering where exactly my place should be. (In life, not so much; but as an author, yes.)

Writing and publishing are two entirely different endeavors; and there are parts to the work of each that I really enjoy. But ultimately, I want to be able to write stories, and I want to work on improving that skill. With After Glows looking after the publication, I’ve had more time to narrow my focus on just the writing.

I like to think of Lacey as a sensitive, vulnerable woman who is just beginning to understand her strength. And when she realizes its depth, it surprises her. (I think that’s a pretty good description of Lacey through the whole story arc…The Incident Under the Overpass—this book; The Trouble on Highway One—book 2, currently under revision; and the tentatively titled The Epiphany on the Causeway—book 3, which I’ve just begun to write.)

Anyway, I think the Lacey on the new cover really captures both her strength and vulnerability; and she also lets potential new readers know they’re in for an urban fantasy / paranormal romance featuring an unusual supernatural ability.

Thank you, After Glows, for helping to bring Lacey to life!

My 100th Post!

12 million blogs.* One writer.

The odds are against Anne McClane…

That’s just the way she likes it.

 

Thanks to my Die Hard poster for letting me paraphrase some promotional copy. It seemed an appropriate way to open this most auspicious of posts—WordPress tells me this is #100!

When I began this venture in 2015, I had no idea what would fill this digital space. From then to now, I’ve never worried too much about it. (Any regular visitor here has probably figured that out by now. Bless your heart.) My intention with all this remains the same as it ever was: to give my writing ambitions a public face. And, essentially, to let anyone who may be interested know that I am a fiction writer.

Posting once a week for the past two years, I’m hitting 100 right on pace. While I just wrote that I’ve never worried too much about the content, I’ll admit it hasn’t always been easy to meet my self-imposed weekly Wednesday deadline. There have been times when I’ve concocted something in the wee hours of a Wednesday, or used my phone’s data to post something from an airport. Or written something in a hotel bathroom because I was sharing the room and didn’t want to disturb my sleeping roommate.

Since I haven’t missed a Wednesday yet, I feel inclined to reference another Bruce Willis character, and another great, preposterous, movie: Harry Stamper in Armageddon. In the scene where he’s fighting with Colonel Willie Sharp (played by William Fichtner), trying to get him to turn off a nuclear bomb, this is what Harry Stamper says:

“I have been drilling holes in the earth for 30 years. And I have never, NEVER missed a depth that I have aimed for. And by God, I am not gonna miss this one, I will make 800 feet.”

Okay, so, I haven’t been at this for 30 years, and the fate of the planet definitely does NOT depend on my blog posts. But for those times when I think of skipping, I think of this scene, and it gives me just enough fire to put something together.

In keeping with the number theme and my “come what may” attitude, here are a few stats:

  • Total views over the lifetime of this blog: 7,550
  • Only time I’ve ever topped 100 views in a day: my 2nd post, about a prescient letter my father wrote eighteen years before Katrina hit New Orleans
  • Post where I explained the whole Anne McClane / Die Hard thing: post #3
  • Tags I’ve used the most: Writing (20 times), New Orleans (13 times), paranormal romance (6 times), Star Wars and Lent are tied at 4 times apiece (go figure)

So, there you have it. Post #100. Hopefully I won’t be writing #101 in a bathroom.

*12 million blogs is completely fictitious. I have no idea how many blogs there are in the world.