Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, Writer, Possessed by Cats

Category: Writing (Page 1 of 11)

On writing and Biden and more

It’s Wednesday, mid-way through the work week. Unless you’re a writer. If you are, you know the work week never ends. You never know when an idea will strike or when you’ll see an image that inspires you. Since it’s Wednesday, it also means I’m blogging at Victory Girls. Today’s post has to do with former VP Joe Biden, the gift that keeps on giving.

Let’s start with good ole “Uncle Joe”. You have to have been living under a rock this last week or so not to know he’s been on a media blitz tour promoting his new book. It’s no surprise that he’s asked time and again what he thinks about President Trump, Hillary’s book and whether or not he is going to run for president in the next election.

Yet, what is missing in each of these interviews are questions about his clearly inappropriate behavior toward women, behavior that was noted in the media in 2015. Oh, he gets to go on and one about gun control, including embarrassing himself by basically saying the hero in the Sutherland Springs tragedy shouldn’t have been able to own the AR-15 used to save lives by stopping the gunman. Not that either is surprising. It simply shows the double-standard of the media and the Dems, in particular.

On the writing front, things are progressing. I’ve a title for the short story/novella (proper classification will depend on final edits and word count) set in the Eerie Side of the Tracks universe. Now to figure out the cover. Once that’s done, the reveal will be made on the blog and FB. Hopefully, edits will continue of Light Magic today. Yesterday, I went back to firming up the plot on the next Sword of the Gods book. So, the projects are progressing.

To be honest, the only problem I’m having with writing right now is that there are too many stories fighting for my attention. Well, that and the fact the injured knee still isn’t amenable to sitting at the desk. So I am having to adapt to doing most of my work on a tablet.

Now I need to run. Well, to be honest, I need to fall face first into bed. I was up most of the night with a very sick kitty. She seems to be all right now but she’ll be heading to the vet later today. But, for now, I need rest or I am going to fall asleep right here. Until later!

Writing Life

Oh how I wish the Hollywood image of a writer was real — no, not the writer in books like Misery. I’m talking about the image of Jessica Fletcher and Richard Castle, among others. You know, writers who have little trouble with characters who refuse to cooperate and where the money comes in hand over fist. Heck, I’d be happy with only one of the two happening. But that’s not the truth when it comes to having a writing life.

My latest adventures in this writing life of mine happened this weekend. I’ve been working, seriously working, on Light Magic for a couple of weeks. I know the story. I had a very, very rough draft. But this was the “real” writing. The character development and weaving in of sub-plots, etc.

And it was like pulling teeth. Oh, words were coming but there was something wrong with them. I couldn’t figure out what. I just knew it was there.

There are times when we, as writers, have to step back and think long and hard about what we are doing. It might be a current project, a project on the drawing board, or one in edits. But it is hard. We get so wrapped up in the writing life, in making sure we keep to our schedules, that we sometimes ignore the internal warning signals. I’ve been guilty of that and, each time, it’s risen up to bite me on the ass.

So, this weekend, I let my mind wander. Okay, I’ll admit it. Most of that was during a gathering I really didn’t want to be at. Giving myself permission to step back from writing Light Magic and just wander mentally helped. In fact, I figured out why I was fighting the project as much as I was.

I realized I had two separate problems to deal with. One was that I was trying to hook my main character up with the wrong person in the story. My subconscious had recognized something I hadn’t — or, more accurately, remembered something from previous titles in the series that I had forgotten. That’s the easy-ish part to solve. I even know who the love interest should be. I just have to figure out how introduce him into the story and get that part of the plot going.

Oh, wait, I’ve managed to do that as well. So far, so good. Right?

Yep.

But now comes the more difficult part. The main problem I had with the book was my main character. Somewhere along the line she had gone from the character I’d envisioned to one who let herself be swept along by events and other people. In other words, she was too passive.

Now, passive main characters have never been something I’ve suffered from. Yes, I have had one or two who, in retrospect, were probably too dumb to live. But I’ve never had one who hasn’t been a fighter in her (or his) own way. That bothered me and I spent most of the last 24 hours — including getting very little sleep because my brain kept returning to the issue — trying to figure out how to fix the issue.

The solution is there. I can see it. But it means I’m going to be head down, fingers on the keyboard even longer each day if I’m to keep to my schedule. It also means I’ll be releasing a short story in the Eerie Side of the Tracks universe to introduce the new male lead. Now, this story has been on the schedule but now it has been moved up.

Oh, and if that isn’t enough, I got hit with a short story set in the Nocturnal Lives universe that may — if I find time to write it — come out for New Years.

Yes, the writing life is anything but peaceful. There are times I wonder why I subject myself to the torture of Myrtle the Evil Muse. But I also wouldn’t give it up for anything.

Now, since I need to buy kibble for the animals, a bit of promo as well. Because I’m working on Light Magic, why not check out some of the titles in the universe?

Witchfire Burning (Eerie Side of the Tracks, Book 1)

Long before the Others made their existence known to the world, Mossy Creek was their haven. Being from the wrong side of the tracks meant you weren’t what the rest of the world considered “normal”.

Normal was all Quinn O’Donnell wanted from life. Growing up on the “wrong side of the tracks”, she had been the only normal in the family. The moment she was old enough, she left and began life as far from her Texas hometown as possible. Now she has a job she enjoys and a daughter she loves more than life itself. Their life is normal, REALLY normal, until her daughter starts calling forth fire and wind.

Quinn knows they must go back so her mother can help five-year-old Ali learn how to control her new talents. But in Mossy Creek nothing is ever simple. Quinn’s mother has gone missing. Secrets from Quinn’s past start coming back to haunt her.

And the family home is more than a little sentient.

Can Quinn keep everyone — particularly Ali — safe? And will she ever get back her illusion of normalcy?

Slay Bells Ring (takes place in the same “universe” but not a direct entry in the Eerie Side of the Tracks series)

Fifteen years ago, Juliana Grissom left Mossy Creek in her rear view mirror. She swore then she would never return for more than a day or two at a time. But even the best laid plans can go awry, something she knew all too well, especially when her family was involved.

Now she’s back and her family expects her to find some way to clear her mother of murder charges. Complicating her life even further is Sam Caldwell, the man she never got over. Now it seems everyone in town is determined to find a way to keep her there, whether she wants to stay or not.

Bodies are dropping. Gossip is flying and Juliana knows time is running out. After all, holidays can be murder in Mossy Creek.

It’s here!

Those of you who follow my weekly posts on Mad Genius Club know I tried something new with the print edition of Vengeance from Ashes (special edition with exclusive material). Instead of going with Createspace or one of the other POD platforms available for indie authors, I tried out the new KDP Print option. I did so with a great deal of trepidation. I don’t like change and I really don’t like not having the option of getting a hard copy proof before turning a print edition loose in the wild. Still, I’d heard both good and bad and, well, it wasn’t going to cost me anything to give it a try.

I’ll admit, two things really helped make my mind up. The first was the ease of setting up everything. Basically, all I had to do was have the pdf version of the interior and cover files ready to go. All the information I input for the e-book edition was automatically imported for the print version. No having to go back and forth between pages to make sure everything matched. So that was the first thing going in its favor.

The second and most important factor is price. Doing the print version through the KDP dashboard allowed me to set the price for the book lower than I would have been able to if I went through Createspace or some of the other POD platforms. That means I can price my book more competitively with print books from traditional publishers. That is important.

As for timing, the files were accepted and approved by KDP for the print version in about the same amount of time as I’ve had to wait before with Createspace. However, the time between order and delivery were much quicker. Because I ordered directly from the Amazon product page, and because I have a Prime membership, I received the book 2 days after I ordered it and did not have to pay shipping. That is much quicker than I’d had to wait for a proof to be delivered from Createspace.

Now, this is where the math gets a bit convoluted. Using Createspace, I could order proofs or author copies at a discounted amount. If I remember correctly, the last time I ordered author copies for a book with approximately the same page count as the special edition of Vengeance, it cost $4.99 (give or take a few cents). Then shipping was added on top of that. All totaled, it cost , for a single volume, approximately $9.00 (It was a few cents under that but I don’t remember how much). Because I was ordering author copies at the discounted rate, those copies did not count toward my author ranking, sales ranking nor did I receive any royalties for the sales.

I ordered the book for $10.99. Because I’m a Prime member, I didn’t have any shipping costs added on. I also earned $1.74 in royalties for the purchase. That means my total out-of-pocket for the single copy I ordered was $9.25. That is within the margin I was willing to pay when considering what I had been paying Createspace, especially when the sales actually count for ranking purposes. So far, so good.

A friend of mine who is a very successful indie writer let me know that he has been contacted by Amazon and he does have the option of order proof copies of his print books. My guess is that this is an update to the program they are slowly rolling out. To order a proof, your book must still be in “draft” status and you will pay the printing cost for your book ($4.86 in the case of Vengeance) plus shipping. All Amazon shipping options are available EXCEPT Prime shipping. So, the speed with which you want the proof will impact your overall cost. You can also order up to five copies of your book per proof order.

When that option is available for me, I’ll report on what the final pricing breakdown is.

So, as the title of this post says, I received my copy of Vengeance yesterday. Other than being a bit miffed because the book had not been packed properly — the box we too big and one corner was crimped as a result of it moving around while in transit — it looks good. Here’s a picture.

VfA special edition

For the print edition, click here.

To pre-order the e-book edition (release date next Tuesday), click here.

A Snippet, a Reminder and More

We’ll start with the reminder first. Vengeance from Ashes (special edition with exclusive content) is currently available for pre-order. Release date is Oct. 17th. This new edition expands on the original edition without changing the overall story arc. Work is progressing on the special edition of Duty from Ashes, as well as Honor from Ashes. They will be released in December and January.

Now for the “more”. Actually, it is a request. Indie authors get most of our PR by word-of-mouth. The best comes from reviews. So, if you’ve read my books — or books by any indie author — please consider leaving a review. It doesn’t have to be long or in-depth. Just a paragraph or two is enough. And they do help. Not only do potential readers look to see if a book has been reviewed and what other readers think, Amazon looks at how many reviews a book has when it comes to their own advertising metrics.

Finally, for the snippet. This is the second snippet from Light Magic. This novel is set in the Eerie Side of the Tracks universe and many of the characters already introduced are returning, as well as a few new characters showing up. This is the unedited version. That means things can and probably will change between now and publication. You can find the first snippet here.

***

I rode past the green and white sign proclaiming “Welcome to Beautiful Mossy Creek” and almost instantly wondered if I’d somehow managed to step back in time. Downtown could have been lifted straight out of the 1950’s – heck, even earlier for all I knew. Small shops with colorful awnings and sandwich board signs on the sidewalks lined Main Street. More than a few of the shop windows contained signs supporting the high school football team in its quest to become the regional champion. Parked along the street and in the surface lot across the street from the courthouse were everything from battered farm trucks to, I kid you not, a Lamborghini.

Next to the courthouse stood Peggy’s Café. I slowed, looking for a parking spot. I’d been on the road since well before dawn. My stomach growled, reminding me I hadn’t eaten. If that wasn’t reason enough to try the café, the fact I needed more coffee was. Besides, if the café was like those in other small towns I’d visited over the years, someone would know where I could find this Serena Duchamp. Who knows, they might even tell me something about the woman and why my mother thought it so important I make the trip to see her.

Or, more likely from the stares I’d gotten since pulling into town, they’d clam up and not say a word. Maybe riding in on my Harley SuperLow and dressed in black leathers hadn’t been the smartest thing I to do. Not that I cared. I was here only because my mother told me to come. It was, in a way, an attempt to fulfill her dying wish. I didn’t have to understand it or like it. I’d do it and, hopefully, be able to leave without delay.

I found a spot not far from the café and backed in. As I did, I glanced around. Early as it was, people hurried up and down the sidewalk, some to work and others in the direction of the café. Some even glanced my way and nodded in greeting. Others actually wished me a good morning. That was certainly more than I’d ever gotten in Maxon’s Mill, not that it meant anything.

Or did it?

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Vengeance from Ashes update and more

As I announced last night, the digital edition of Vengeance from Ashes (special edition with exclusive content) is now available for pre-order. Release date is a week from today. The print version is in the pipeline and I will have a hard copy in my hands Thursday to give it a final look. Fingers crossed everything went all right with the setup. The print version order page is being promulgated. It still needs the product information and to be linked to the e-book page. That will probably take a couple of days.

I’ve detailed my mental gymnastics in deciding to release this version over at Mad Genius Club this morning. Check it out.

So that brings me to the release dates for the expanded editions for the rest of the series. Duty from Ashes, currently available only on Amazon, will see the expanded edition released on Amazon on 12/19. The expanded version of Honor from Ashes will be released on Amazon on Jan. 16, 2018. The original versions of those books will be released on the other major platforms approximately 1 week after the expanded versions go on sale.

That leaves Victory from Ashes (working title) to be published. I am currently looking at bringing it out March 13, 2018. The prequel novella/novel (Duty Bound) will, hopefully, come out before then but I am not going to hold up the special editions or Victory for it since it is still gelling in my mind.

In the meantime, I’m going to start doing some promos for my other work, including posting snippets here. But that will be for later. Right now, I have much to do and still haven’t had enough coffee.

Coffee…..

Yummmmm…..

Later!

 

I really should know better

I did it. I knew when I wrote Friday’s post, I was tempting my luck. I should know better than to throw down the metaphorical challenge gauntlet where my muse is concerned. But I did it and now Myrtle the Evil Muse is going to make me pay for it.

Long story short, when I started considering releasing the expanded edition of Vengeance from Ashes and the other books in the Honor and Duty series, I didn’t know what to do about the short stories that act as prequels to the series. Friday, after blogging, I started thinking about whether or not I should release them into the wild. That started me thinking about whether or not a prequel novel should be written. There have been requests for one, specifically one that deals with the events that led to Ashlyn being court-martialed.

That’s where Myrtle the Evil Muse stepped in. The individual short stories will be taken off of the KU program and released into the wild. But, they will also become the basis for a prequel novel. I’m still working on the actual plot and mechanics of how to do it. I do have the title — Honor Bound. Of course, that might change as things progress, but that’s what I’m working with right now.

So, that gets added to the list of books to be written.

As for the rest of it, I’m working on updating all my e-books (mainly formatting updates as well as updating key words) as I update print files and get them ready for release. Some covers will be changing as well. Then I need to talk with someone about doing audio books for at least the science fiction novels.

In other words, I’m practicing what I preach and looking at my writing as a business. More on that as it progresses. For now, I have a couple of contract obligations to deal with this morning and then it’s back to writing.

In the meantime, we are counting down to the release of the expanded edition of Vengeance from Ashes. Eight days to go!

Wow! What just happened?

This week has been odd, to say the least. Real life impacted writer life and writer life impacted social life. Quit laughing. I do have a social life — sort of. Add in a migraine, deadlines that have been blown in the real life sector and, well, you get an idea of what the week has been like.

So imagine my surprise when I sat down this morning and realized how much I’ve gotten accomplished on top of all that. I’ve managed to blog, not only here but at Mad Genius Club and Victory Girls, even if not with the regularity I’d like. But blogs happened. Considering the distractions of the week, that’s an accomplishment.

But what has really surprised me is how much work I’ve managed to put in. It’s been done in fits and starts and at times when I don’t usually write. But it has happened and with better results than I anticipated. I finalized the files for the release of the special, expanded edition of Vengeance from Ashes. I have to check the cover file one more time before setting it up for a print release. Assuming everything goes according to plan, the e-book version will be released on the 17th of this month and the print book shortly thereafter (if not on the same day).

The special, expanded edition of Duty from Ashes, the second book in the series, started taking shape this week as well. Some notes have been made and a few corrections to the original file have been entered. Now comes the hard work, work that I usually do during the evening when the family is watching TV.

But there’s more. I finished the rough draft for Light Magic, another novel set in the Eerie Side of the Creek universe. I love this novel, even if it did fight me tooth and nail in the beginning. I’m going to put it aside for a couple of weeks as I work on another project. Then I’ll come back and finish it up. If all goes according to plan, it will be out end of November.

As for the rest of it, I finally figured out the full plot arc for the final book (?) in the Sword of the Gods series. In some ways, it will be much darker than the previous two books (Sword of Arelion and Dagger of Elanna) but it needs to be. Not dark in the GRRM way of things where everyone, or almost everyone, dies, but dark in that folks will die or worse. And, to be honest, it is the “worse” aspect that excites and scares me as a writer.

I’ve also had a scene stuck in my head from the Nocturnal Lives series that is so far out there, I know it is just Myrtle the Evil Muse playing with me. What else could explain a scene where Mac is waiting even more nervously than anyone else for Pat to give birth? She’s not worried that anything will happen to her friend or the baby. No, she’s worried because she doesn’t know whether the proper gift for a new shifter baby should be diapers or kitty litter. Yes, I told you, my muse is evil and she loves to torment me with these things. Whether a story comes out of it or not, I don’t know. And, to be honest, I’m not sure I want to know. Shudder.

Finally, and in some ways most important, I have the plot for the next Honor & Duty book as well as at least one short story in that universe. I’ll be making notes on them over the next few days. Writing should start on them next month some time. There will also be a Christmas story in the Eerie Side of the Creek universe, released in December. So busy times ahead.

Assuming Myrtle doesn’t decide to hijack me yet again — glares inward at the cackling muse. For now, it’s back to work. I have a contract job to take care of and them some real life obligations to deal with before I can sit down to write today. But first, more coffee!

Later!

 

 

Vengeance from Ashes (expanded edition) – Snippet 2

(This is the second excerpt from the expanded edition of Vengeance from Ashes, release date scheduled for October 17th. The below excerpt is from the beta readers’ version and the published version may contain minor changes.)

***

Major Rico Santiago stared at the image on his screen. He couldn’t believe it. There was no way she could be on-planet, much less be just three floors below his office. But, as the ancient adage went, a picture was worth a thousand words. In this case, it was worth a hell of a lot much more and it raised just as many questions.

He leaned back and shook his head. Even after watching the scene in the cell for approximately five minutes, his mind refused to accept what his eyes saw. The prisoner, dressed in the standard issue black jumpsuit that the JAG euphemistically called “persons of interest”, was moving through an increasingly more difficult set of push-ups. First had been five standard push-ups. Then five knuckle push-ups followed by five fingertip push-ups. He’d continued to watch, even after catching the line of her jaw and the tilt of her head. That had been enough to confirm her identity. Even so, he still wondered if it wasn’t all a dream. No other explanation made sense.

His fingers moved over the virtual keyboard as he typed in a series of commands. He paged through the readouts, moving them into order, his eyes quickly scanning the results. Then he leaned back and blew out a breath. There was no doubt about it. Not only was she on-planet but someone had managed to get her there and into the security complex without him getting wind of it.

And that most definitely was not good.

As one of FleetCom’s top intelligence officers, it was his job to know everything before it happened. The fact this had almost slipped by him spoke volumes about who had issued the orders to bring her back to New Kilrain. He had no doubt those orders had come from well above his pay grade. No one else had the pull to not only send a ship for the woman but to get her released to local confinement. Who and why he didn’t know – but he would.

Frowning, he drummed his fingers against the synth-wood of his desktop. Could it be there were others besides himself looking into the circumstances surrounding Ashlyn Shaw’s court-martial and conviction? If so, what was their motivation and why had they brought her back? More important in some ways, who were they and why had they acted on their own instead of through his office?

He hated not having the answers. Any intelligence officer would. Unanswered questions could easily mean death, if not for the “spook” then for others, usually innocents.

Damn it, what the hell was going on?

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Reading and Writing: Can they co-exist?

Yesterday, I blogged about some of the books I’m either currently reading or have recently finished. As I wrote the post, I recalled some conversations I’ve had with other writers, not to mention online comments I’ve read, about their own reading habits. Then, this morning, I came across another post where a writer lamented the fact they can’t read fiction while writing. And a post was born.

Before I go any further, I want to address one of the misconceptions I’ve seen new writers express on more than one occasion. These writers have said they don’t read while writing because their product is so “unique”, they don’t want to dilute it by exposing it to other people’s work. Uh, nope. If it is that unique, reading how other people write will only enforce that uniqueness. Of course, reading other people’s work might also point out that your “uniqueness” might not be as unique as you think.

Now, if you are afraid you’ll start imitating the style of the writer you’re reading, or copying plots or plot devices, that’s something else. And there is an easy fix for it. Just don’t read in your genre, at least not while you are writing. After you finish your project, then go back to the genre and read. Why? Because you need to see what’s selling. You need to read it to figure out why it’s selling. You need to read it study story structure, the tropes being used (and not being used), character development, etc. After all, if you don’t read a genre, how can you successfully write in it?

I also read to make sure I’m not writing something that has basically already been done to death. For example, when it comes to urban fantasy, I do shifters. But I try to add a different twist to them. I don’t do vampires. For one, they’ve never really hit me as romantic figures — and let’s face is. Most of the UF featuring them have them as romantic figures. There are some exceptions but not all that many and if we look at paranormal romance . . . — I don’t know if I will ever write vampires. The very thought of doing so and I hear my friend Kate, her Aussie accent full of humor, as she wonders how a vamp can “get it up” since there’s no blood flow. Then she goes on to speculate on what sort of sex toys would be needed. Nope, I so do not need to go there.  😉

It’s a bit harder with romantic suspense to find a new twist. That’s where you have to make sure your characters are different. It has to do with craft and that leads back to reading. One of the best ways to not only see where you need to improve your craft but to see examples of what to do and what not to do is to read in your genre.

An example of this came across my timeline the other day. There’s a book that shall not be named (for fear someone might foolishly go to Amazon and buy it) that is not only an example of all the things you shouldn’t do as an author (from poor cover design to poor story structure, character development and so much more) or say as an author (this guy takes the award for how not to respond to criticism). The book in question has become part of my examples of what not to do when I talk with new writers. It is truly an example of why so many people hesitate to buy an indie novel.

Fortunately, it was the only novel out there of its kind. Or so I thought. And yes, there is a specific theme to the book that breaks my suspension of belief meter. Except, as my timeline proved the other day, it’s not. Someone else has written a book using basically the same theme. Worse, reading the blurb, it is written pretty much as badly as the first book. Different author. Same theme and many of the same issues. A little bit of research could have helped this author, as would reading the original book (gag) to learn where that author had gone wrong.

I guess this is all saying read. You might not be able to read your genre while writing and I get that. But read your genre after you finish a project. That’s my reward to myself. I still read though while writing. I read non-fiction and I read genres not related to my current work-in-progress. I’m not sure I could go an entire project without reading.

Now I’d best get to work. Until later.

Light Magic — Snippet #1

(The opening of the novel, as well as some of the main character’s backstory, has changed. Myrtle, being the evil muse that she is, might demand further changes before publication. But here is the opening scene. This is from the rough draft. Hope you enjoy!)

***

If anything happens to me, go home to Mossy Creek. I mean it, Meggie. Go there and find Serena Duchamp. She’ll know what to do. Promise me, Meggie. Please. Do this for me and for you.

I first read those words two weeks ago when my mother’s attorney handed me a file of paperwork. Mr. Chandler’s expression was appropriately serious. There might have been a hint of compassion in his rheumy blue eyes but I hadn’t noticed. All I’d wanted was to get out of there. I’d had more than my share of people offering their hollow condolences and well-wishes over the last few days. They no more fooled me than they had my mother.

Damn them. If they cared so much, why hadn’t they been there for her when she’d needed them?

Why hadn’t I?

The latter was easier to answer than the former. I hadn’t been there because she didn’t tell me she was sick. I would have gone AWOL if necessary to get to her in time. Not that it would have been necessary. I hadn’t been active duty in almost seven years. I wasn’t even a member of the Reserves any longer. Much as I’d hated giving it up, it had been the Reserves or my job and I needed my job. It allowed me to not only keep a roof over my head but to help supplement Mom’s expenses as well. I should have realized something was wrong when she quit protesting the money I sent at the beginning of each month. I thought she’d quit because she knew I would keep sending it, whether she wanted me to or not. It was my way of repaying her for all the sacrifices she’d made for me when I was younger.

Damn it, I should have listened to the doubts and asked her straight out what was going on. Now it was too late. She was gone, leaving me with more questions than I had answers, not the least of which was why she wanted me to go “back” to some hole-in-the-wall town in Texas named Mossy Creek. The only problem was I didn’t remember ever being in Mossy Creek. So how could I go back to it?

If that wasn’t enough, who was this Serena Duchamp and what was she supposed to help me?

Instead of Mom telling me she was sick, I’d been blindsided by a call from her minister. I’d listened in disbelief as he told me Mom “was no longer with us.” Yep, that’s exactly how he put it and it took me several moments to realize what he meant. I’m sure he thought I must have been in denial when I asked why he was calling to tell me she’d changed churches. It never occurred to me that she might actually be dead. My mother had always been bigger than life, even if she stood just under five-feet tall. She had been a force of nature. She had to be to survive in Maxon’s Mill, Kansas. Despite having lived there since I was a toddler, Mom had been an outsider. Oh, those living there had no problems coming to her when they needed something, but they never accepted her – or me.

Now they could all rot in Hell as far as I was concerned. To prove it, once old man Chandler filed the probate papers, I packed up my mother’s things, sold what furniture I didn’t want and put everything else into storage in Wichita. I didn’t trust the locals enough to leave it there. Her house was on the market, the attorney taking care of the legalities. And I had no reason to ever return to the town that had never made us feel welcome.

Instead, I was on my way to a town I’d never heard of until opening Mom’s last letter to me, one she’d known wouldn’t be delivered until after her death. But what did it mean?

And why had she never mentioned Mossy Creek or this Serena Duchamp before if they were so important?

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