Excerpt from “The Witch of Willow Lake”

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The photo above is one I had shared on Facebook a couple years ago because I found it hilarious and unbelievable, and then forgotten about it. It came up again in my news feed as a Facebook Memory. Once again, I found it funny, though this time it was because I recently wrote a scene in The Witch of Willow Lake which this photo could almost illustrate. I’m going to post a little piece of that scene.

In this scene, Kyr discovers the existence of a piece of evidence that may prove very important to the mystery she, Spook, and the Petery brothers are investigating at Willow Lake College. Her dedication, however, is beginning to border on obsession, and Spook is trying to make her see that she needs to back off.

From The Witch of Willow Lake, Chapter 2:

***

After work, I scarfed down some leftovers, rushed through my evening routine, reheated a cup of leftover coffee, and sat down at my laptop to do a search for Biddlesbach’s book. I glanced at the clock—seven thirty-five. I was certain I could hop online, find the book in question, figure out how to get my hands on it, and be done by eight o’clock so I could call Spook and tell him the ball was firmly in my court.

Naturally, my first inclination was to check the Willow Lake Public Library. If a book written by a Willow Lake native would be anywhere, that was the most likely place. I accessed the library’s website and then clicked on their online catalog. While I waited to be redirected onto the correct page, I tapped my fingers nervously on my coffee cup.

When the OPAC page came up, I entered the title of the book in the search bar and hit the Go button. I was a bit taken aback when the results page listed a number of similar titles, but didn’t include the one I was looking for. For several minutes I tried different search criteria, which always led to the same result—a lot of similar books, but Biddlesbach’s not among them.

“Okay, let’s try something different,” I muttered, starting over and entering Biddlesbach’s name in the author search. I hit Go and sat back, sipping my coffee and trying to ignore the all-too-familiar feeling that I was heading down a dead-end road. A list of authors with similar-sounding names popped up, but again, no Biddlesbach. I set my mug down with a thump, ignoring the coffee that sloshed out onto the desk. Muttering to myself, I sat forward to look more closely at the list, as if doing so would make the name I was searching for suddenly appear.

I repeated the process with the Willow Lake College Library, searching through lists of both books in the stacks and archived works. Not surprisingly, I had the same lack of success there. “At least I have a personal contact here,” I muttered to myself as I shot an email to Mrs. Rutter. She would be able to tell me if the college had ever had the book on the shelves and what had happened to it if it had.

The next logical step was to widen my search to include the entire county library system, and then some of the surrounding counties as well. With each unsuccessful search, I grew more and more frustrated. I knew I wasn’t searching for a best-seller, but could it really be this difficult to find a book? This was the 21st century, for crying out loud.

I chastised myself for being the least bit surprised. After all the other dead ends we’d hit so far, this was just par for the course, wasn’t it? I just get the sense that the ball isn’t in our court at this point. As I sat back in my chair, thinking about my next step, Spook’s voice echoed in my mind. I shook my head to silence the thought. I couldn’t accept that. I grabbed a pen and paper and began listing all the websites I could think of where I might find the book. Spook had told me once that my research skills were impressive. Well, prepare to be impressed again, Mr. Steele. My lips curled up in determination as I set to work.

Knowing that Biddlesbach’s book would likely have been published by a small local press and would only have held the interest of people in and around Willow Lake, for the time being I avoided searching Amazon and large chain-bookstore websites, instead focusing my search on independent bookstores in and around Willow Lake that had internet presence or email addresses where I could contact them. The shadows in the room lengthened, and my eyes grew blurry as I squinted into the glare of the computer screen. I sighed and took a sip of my now-lukewarm coffee. With a grimace, I set it down and propped my chin on my fist.

“Time to bring out the big guns,” I grumbled. Being a children’s librarian, I generally didn’t have to search for out-of-print books in my department. However, I occasionally dealt with other patrons who needed older, out-of-print books, usually for genealogical or historical projects, which meant I had a ready list of rare and out-of-print book websites already in my head. As I reached for my pen to start jotting down websites, I noticed how dark the room had grown. A glance at the clock on the wall told me it was already past nine o’clock. I groaned inwardly and switched on the desk lamp next to the computer so I could see. Just another half hour, I promised myself. If I don’t find anything in another half hour, I’ll quit for the night.

For the next thirty-plus minutes, I methodically went down my list, trying to locate either Biddlesbach or his book, but to no avail. As my list grew shorter, my frustration and discouragement grew. It was as if the book and any record of its existence had simply vanished. The minutes continued to slip away as my fingers flew across the keyboard, typing in requests for help finding the book on every obscure bookstore website I could find online.

I lost all sense of time, and had even forgotten about calling Spook until Copa Cabana suddenly blasted right next to my elbow. As I picked it up to answer, I saw that it was almost ten o’clock. “Hi, Spook,” I said absently, still scrolling through a book list.

“Ah, you are still awake.” He sounded tired, and I realized that he had likely been waiting up for my call. “You didn’t have another library meeting, did you?”

“No.” I crossed one bookstore off my list and moved along to the next. “Just doing some research and lost track of time.”

He was silent for a moment, obviously weighing my words. “Research, hmm? On what, as if I didn’t know?”

I exhaled loudly through my nose as the bookstore website I’d just entered came up as Page cannot be displayed. “Well, if you already know, why are you asking?” I meant my comment to sound facetious, but it came out as snippy, so I quickly apologized and backtracked. “I came across a piece of information today, and I’m trying to follow up on it. I’m just not having much luck.” I cradled my phone between my shoulder and my ear as I entered Biddlesbach’s name on the next bookstore website.

“At the risk of fueling your obsession…”

“I’m not obsessed,” I interrupted, setting the phone down and setting it to speakerphone so I could talk and research at the same time. “I’m dedicated.”

He chuckled. “Okay, okay, you’re dedicated. What’s your new information?”

I sighed, not missing the tension in his laugh or the skepticism in his comment. “Do you remember when we were trying to find the article about the construction worker who was injured in the bell tower?” When he indicated that he did, I quickly explained that another article had briefly caught my attention as I scrolled past it. “That article was about a local historian who had just published a book about the legends of the Willow Lake area. If I’d known that it might be important to the investigation, I would have made note of it then.”

The tone of Spook’s voice changed as he replied, “Okay, so what’s the author’s name?”

“Kenneth Biddlesbach.”

“Biddles…what?” His tone suggested that he had a sarcastic comment on the tip of his tongue. He didn’t disappoint. “What a moniker! You couldn’t find someone with a normal name like Smith or Jones?”

“Biddlesbach,” I repeated, ignoring his joke. “I came across his obituary when I did a search of books about Willow Lake history. The obituary gave the title of his book, so I’ve been trying to locate it since I got home this evening.”

He was quiet for a moment as he processed the information. I took advantage of his silence to keep going down the list of out-of-print book shops on the current website. “Even with your super-human research skills, you haven’t found the book yet?”

I squinted at the print on the Hidden Treasures Rare Books website for a moment before clicking on the Zoom button to make it larger so I could read the titles on the page. “Biddle, Biddleston, Biddlestone, but no Biddlesbach,” I muttered, hitting the Back button to return to the search engine.

“Kyr?”

“Hmm? Oh, sorry. What did you say?” I was usually better at multitasking, but the late hour and my frustration over my lack of success were making it difficult to focus.

He let out a long sigh. “Never mind, I already know the answer. Kyr m’dear, why don’t you call it a night and talk to me?”

Only a couple bookstores remained on the list, and I really wanted to finish it off before giving up. I knew he’d give me grief if I said that, so I made an attempt at conversation. “So, what did you do today?” No, that didn’t sound lame.

By the tone of his voice, I could tell he thought so as well. “Dad and I had a big job over at the Batdorf farm today.”

“Oh?” Even to my ears I sounded distracted. “What did you do there?” I had taken the phone off speaker and was typing with one hand while holding the phone to my ear with the other.

I thought I detected a change in his voice, but I was too immersed in my task to analyze it. “Well, Mrs. Batdorf was concerned about the giant redwood tree next to her house. You know how big giant redwood trees get, right?”

“Sure, I know.” I tapped on the desk impatiently, waiting for the website to load.

“Luckily, this was a young redwood, so we only had a little under two hundred feet of tree to work with.” He paused, waiting for me to respond.

What had he just said? Something about the tree not being very tall? “That’s good. Taller trees are harder to trim.” I congratulated myself on remembering something he had told me before.

“Still, the tree was higher than our ladder could reach, so we had to improvise.”

I had just found the website of a bookstore that carried mostly books from small, local presses, but I caught the word improvise in his comment and knew it was significant to his story. “So what did you do?”

A slight huff caught my attention, so I held the phone closer to my ear and tried to listen attentively to his next words. “We had to balance one of our ladders on top of her roof and then tie one of her ladders to the top of ours to reach the branches she wanted us to trim…”

“Mmm-hmm.”

“We cut off a dead branch about three-quarters of the way up the tree. When the branch came off, I noticed a big hollowed-out area in the trunk. You’ll never guess what was wedged inside that hole.”

I looked away from the computer screen to cross off the last website on my list. “Hmm? What?”

There was no mistaking the sarcasm dripping from his voice as he responded weightily, “We found the ghost of Mary Bollinger.”

“You found what?” I threw my pen down, now fully focused on his words. “Spook, you did not!”

He let out a humorless laugh. “I knew that would get your attention. Kyr, you need to give it a rest. You’re bordering on obsession here.”

“No, listen…”

“No, Kyr,” he interrupted. “You listen. To yourself. I’m starting to worry about you. You got off work tonight, and right away you started ‘researching.’ It’s now past ten o’clock, and you’re still researching. You can’t even tear yourself away to talk to me, and the only way to get your full attention is to say the name Mary Bollinger.”

His words hit me like a slap in the face. He was right; I was acting as though I were obsessed. I swallowed hard and reached up to shut down my computer. “I’m sorry, Spook.”

“I’m not mad at you, Kyr.” His voice softened as he repeated, “I’m worried about you. I know it’s important to you to get to the bottom of this mystery, but you can’t let it take over your life. For the past couple weeks, that’s all you talk about when I call.”

My mind flitted back over the previous days, and I realized that even before stumbling across Biddlesbach and the mystery book, my life outside of work had taken on the pattern of coming home, scarfing down a quick supper, and hopping on the computer to dig for information about Mary, the fire, and anything else I could find about Willow Lake. Even my conversations with Spook had become mostly one-sided and tended to focus on our ill-fated investigation.

Spook’s voice broke into my thoughts. “Kyr, just let it rest for now. Just put it aside until we see each other, and then we can tackle it together.”

Smiling at the prospect of seeing him again, but knowing it was unlikely with his summer work schedule, I teased, “And when might that be? Are Drac and Gabe planning to revisit the Berkeley mansion this Halloween?” I doubted that was the case, and in any event, I hoped to see him long before Halloween.

He chuckled mischievously. “Not that I know of, but either way, I’ll definitely see you much sooner than that.”

“What are you talking about?” He had my radar up now, and he knew it. “What do you have up your sleeve, Mr. Steele?”

I could picture his wide grin and the roguish sparkle in his deep brown eyes as he replied, “I’m not telling, Ms. Carter. That’s a mystery you’ll have to work out on your own.”

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Far From Over

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In less than a week, my publisher, Booktrope, will officially close its doors. For the past few weeks, I have been receiving all sorts of emails regarding downloading important documents from the site, settling with creative teams, how our final royalties will be paid, formal disclosures about our rights reverting to the authors, and so on. The latest message I’ve received informed us about our books being removed from various distribution channels.

It has been, and still is, difficult to sit and watch this process, knowing there is nothing I can do to stop it. It is painful seeing my dream of being a published author fulfilled and then watching it go up in smoke. To be honest, it has been difficult seeing some of my fellow Booktrope authors pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and move right along as though this were nothing. I’m sure they’re still reeling as much as I am, but being more experienced, more confident, or maybe just more talented than I am, they were able to shake it off more quickly.

Where am I? Well, I guess it depends when you ask me. I can tell you one thing right now, and I guarantee that five minutes from now, or five hours from now, or five days from now (especially five days from now, when this will almost be a done deal), I will give you a different answer. I can tell you that there is a huge part of me that says, “Just give it up. You were never meant to be a successful author, and it’s a miracle you even got this far. Stop wasting time, money, and energy on something you weren’t meant to have.” Part of me says that, and there is a part of me that agrees with that sentiment. In a lot of ways, it makes sense to just quit while I’m ahead. It was fun while it lasted, but now it’s time to put my grown-up pants on and stop dreaming. This is my self-preservation side, and Self-Preservation Side has a very loud voice.

But there is another part of me that can be just as loud. This is my dreamer side. Dreamer Side answers Self-Preservation Side by saying, “This is just part of the journey. You are a writer; you were always meant to be a writer. Don’t let this define you. The failure isn’t yours; it is Booktrope’s. Listen. Listen to your soul. Can’t you hear all those characters clamoring inside you? You haven’t told their stories yet. Just because you can’t see more of the road in front of you doesn’t mean the road isn’t there. Just go one step at a time, and the path will open up.”

You know what’s the hardest right now? The fact that I know both sides are speaking truth. I have a choice to make, and in reality, neither path is easier. There will be struggles and pain and failures and hard decisions to make no matter which path I choose. And admittedly, there will be triumph and joy and success and moments where I know I’ve made the right decision no matter which path I choose.

Deep down inside, I believe I know which path I’m going to take. Dreaming big is ingrained in my personality. Unfortunately, so is fear. But I do know one thing. The fear of regret is much stronger in me than the fear of failure. There have been so many times in the past where I have not followed through with something I wanted because I was afraid, because I couldn’t see the outcome, because someone told me it was a stupid idea, and I stand in the road looking back saying, “What if? What if I’d followed my heart? Where might I be?”

I am a writer. I am a creator of stories. It is not up to me whether or not I will become a famous million-selling author, but it is up to me whether I tell my stories or let them die within me.

For the past few days, a line from Frank Stallone’s song “Far From Over” from the movie Staying Alive has been popping into my head every time I feel like giving up. “I am down, but I am far from over.” I want to believe that. I have to believe that.

So, onward and upward.

Snow Effect by Dena Garson

Snow EffectNicki Cartwright is one snowflake away from losing her dazzling TV camera smile. Between her mother interfering in her non-existent love life, a spotlight-stealing co-worker, and the threat of the snow storm of the decade, Nicki wants nothing more than to run away to a tropical beach. Instead, she lets herself be talked into attending the McNair’s 50th anniversary party.

Randy Stephenson’s drive from Chicago was uneventful until a winter blast made the last thirty-something miles nearly impassable. By the time he makes it to his grandparent’s cabin, an anniversary party is the last thing he wanted to endure. But finding Nicki there, the girl he had always regretting leaving, makes him glad he came.

Turns out fate-or maybe just a set of scheming grandparents-has plans for them. Stranded at the cabin, alone and with no real party in sight, they’ll have to face old hurts and an electric attraction. Is great sex, a little honesty, and a potentially priceless painting enough to mend a broken heart?

Snow Effect 
by Dena Garson

Series
n/a; standalone

Genre
Contemporary Romance

Publisher
Independent

Publication Date
April 20, 2016

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Katalina Leon ~ Dark Sky
Dark hearts. Dark Sky. Since childhood, Severin and Avery’s love was meant to be. For eight years, tragedy has torn them apart but fate offers them a second chance.

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Bella’s secretly wanted Holt for years, and now…here's her chance. Will his fiery dominance burn this willful heroine to a crisp?

Ann Mayburn ~ Sodom and the Phoenix
Will shy Tanwen find the courage to embrace all the forbidden pleasures that Master Adam has to offer, or will she continue to be a 'good girl' and deny herself the satisfaction and love she truly desires.

Michelle Fox ~ Operation Burlesque
The last thing a burlesque dancer should do is fall in love with a sexy special ops agent, especially when that puts her on the radar of the terrorist network he's taking down.

Rebecca Royce ~ Under The Lights
Despite the odds, their passion burns as the show must go on. Can these two see there is love to be had both under and away from the lights?

T.L Reeve ~ Releasing Hannah
For Hannah, coming home is the easy part. Finding herself, while searching for the right Dom to release her inhibitions will push her heart to its limits.

Dena Garson ~ Snow Effect
When Randy walked away from Nicki eight years earlier, he shattered her heart. Now that fate -or maybe just a couple of scheming grandparents- has brought them together again he’ll have to convince her that he deserves a second chance.

Virginia Cavanaugh ~ Lovers By Night
Paige Sutton wants to play doctor with handsome Brandon Kline, a hot doctor that is sure to give any woman palpitations. This sizzling medical romance is just what the doctor ordered.

 

About Dena Garson

Dena GarsonDena Garson is a Process Redesign Specialist by day and a writer and jewelry designer by night. She is raising two rowdy boys who play lots of sports which forces her to spend way to much time on the practice field and/or sidelines. Thankfully she has a loyal and loving Labrador Retriever to listen when she complains.

 

 

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I’m tired of abusive religion

Sarahbeth Caplin

I took a big risk and decided to be vulnerable in my latest memoir. The hard fact is that I couldn’t accurately talk about my faith struggles without describing the events that influenced the way I relate to God: namely, the rape and the abuse. Those things are absolutely critical to the way I related to God for years, and to this day I have a bend toward self-deprecating worship.

You know what, though?

I’ve had enough of that. And I’m really tired – no, more like angry – to see so-called human depravity glorified with catchy songs and slogans. Abuse survivors and depression sufferers just do not need this crap.

I’m not saying I don’t believe in sin. And I don’t consider myself a “good person.” But I do believe there is a world of difference between “not good” and “utterly depraved.” And I no longer see…

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Love Me, Love My Chaos

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I have never been accused of being an orderly person. I am the absolute antithesis of organization. For as long as I can remember, my bedroom, my workspace, my desk, my locker…they’ve all been a hot mess of books, random papers, pens and pencils, hair ties, stuffed animals, and whatever else just happened to get thrown in the mix. Well, except food. I was never the one to leave food or drink lying around till it became a science experiment. I have a deep-rooted fear of mold and a strong dislike for ants, so at least I have that going for me.

For years I agonized over this state of affairs. My parents were neat and organized. My brothers were neat and organized. My husband and older son are neat and organized. But me? Nope. I tried. I can clean things up, but I guarantee they’ll be messy again within a day.

I guess it just goes with being creative. At any given moment, there is so much going on inside my head–stories I want to write, scarves or sweaters I want to crochet, scenes I’d like to draw or photograph–that I can’t focus on what’s lying on the floor around me. I’ve always said, if you think my house is a mess, you should see the inside of my mind.

For the most part, I’ve learned to live with chaos. In fact, when things get too quiet inside my head and I begin focusing on cleaning up the house, you can bet it’s because my creativity is all dried up. I’ve hit writer’s block, I don’t feel like crocheting, and my pencils and sketch pad go untouched.

And at those times, you may find that my house is in order, but I’m not a fun person to be around. I may be distracted. I may be angry. I may be depressed or withdrawn. In short, something of me just isn’t there.

So if you’re my friend, you learn to go with the flow and embrace me in all my chaotic, creative glory. So when you come visit me, don’t mind the mess. Just move the notebooks out of the way and be careful you don’t sit on a pencil or crochet hook. I’ll make us some tea, just as soon as I find the teabags…

Chaos

Cover Reveal: A Talent for Death

A Talent For Death Placeholder PostMaggie Connolly has yet to develop her magical Talent. A late bloomer, her parents tell her. As the teasing she endures from her classmates worsens, Maggie realizes she can repel the magic of the half-demon Kody, who insists that her ability proves she has either angelic or demonic heritage.

Desperate for answers, Maggie forms an unlikely alliance with Kody, who once mocked her as much as everyone else. With his help, Maggie begins to manifest a power she cannot control.

Soon, Maggie is the focal point of a long-prophesied war between the angels and the demons, and she will have to choose her side.

 

 

 

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The cover, inspired by a Tarot card (which ties into the story line), is designed by Shalis Stevens.

 

Talent For Death 
by Beth Dolgner

Series
n/a; standalone

Genre
Young Adult
Fantasy

Publisher
Redglare Press

Release Date
June 7, 2016

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About Beth Dolgner
Beth DolgnerBeth Dolgner started writing short stories at a young age, and having a journalism teacher for a dad certainly set her on the right track. After she graduated from Florida Atlantic University with her degree in Communications, Beth began working as a freelance writer, journalist and public relations representative.

Georgia Spirits and Specters, Beth's first book, debuted in the spring of 2009 and was followed by Everyday Voodoo in 2010. She has a lifelong interest in the paranormal and is an active member of West Georgia Paranormal Investigations.

Beth made her fiction debut in October of 2011 with the paranormal romance "Ghost of a Threat," the first in the Betty Boo, Ghost Hunter series.

In her free time, Beth enjoys traveling, sewing and riding motorcycles. She and her husband Ed live in Atlanta, Georgia, with their five cats. Beth is online at http://www.BethDolgner.com.

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Abandoned

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It wasn’t supposed to end like this.

I thought that when I signed with a publisher, things would workout for me as an author.

Did I expect overnight success and wealth? No. (Sure, I dreamed about it; who doesn’t?) Did I expect movie deals and celebrities begging to star in my stories? No, of course not. (Again, yes, I dreamed about it.) Did I expect to be able to rest on my laurels? Nope to that too.

I did expect maybe a bit more security. I did expect to at least take my husband to dinner with my first royalty check, even if it did take a little time and a few more books before that happened.

I did not expect the company to announce that it’s closing its doors, especially not with the suddenness with which it happened. Especially without answers.

I feel abandoned. I feel betrayed. I feel disrespected. And I am not the only one. Many of us who wrote, edited, proofread, and designed under Booktrope’s umbrella feel as though the Powers That Be have abandoned us. “Please be patient,” they tell us. “We’re doing our best to work this out.”

I have no doubt they’re trying to work something out, and I understand that it may take time. But we need answers. We deserve answers. We have been left to our own imaginations–come on, we’re writers! What else do we do?–and have come up with all kinds of scenarios and conspiracy theories about what has happened and what will happen. And then they tell us to simmer down, to resist feeding into the rumors. Rumors of lawsuits, of bankruptcy, of aliens from another galaxy having taken over (Okay, that one hasn’t surfaced yet, but for all we’re hearing of the truth, it could have happened, right?)

But what else do we have? In the absence of any real information, of course rumors will surface. Or someone will mishear or misinterpret something someone else has said. And then the stress levels go up. I’ve seen posts from fellow authors that genuinely concern me, because this stress has resulted in worsening health issues, lack of sleep, inability to eat, or binge eating (FYI, there is a box of cream-filled donuts screaming at me from the kitchen, assuring me that they’ll make it all better.).

“Just keep writing. Just keep doing what you do.” I’d like to. I’ve tried to. But I can’t. The two books I have tied up with Booktrope are part of a series. I’m at a standstill with working on Book 3 because I don’t even know if it’s a possibility that those stories may not belong to me at this point. And without those two books, it’s pointless to write Book 3, isn’t it?

For someone who has had trust issues in the past, this is a horrible place to be in. I want to be able to write again, to publish again, but at what cost? I know without a doubt that I will never again trust my work to a publisher, traditional or hybrid. At least if I self-publish and screw something up or run out of money or whatever, I will know what happened. I will know who to blame. And I will know who to turn to in order to work things out.

Abandoned

Onward and (Hopefully) Upward

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After Friday’s disastrous news that my publisher, Booktrope, will cease operations at the end of May, I, like most of the other authors, editors, proofreaders, and cover designers, spent the weekend wallowing in disbelief, anger, despair, and any other emotion you’d like to throw in there. As the shock wears off, we are now left with the question of what happens next. Wait until our rights are returned to us and republish? Find another publisher? Let their books fade into oblivion?

A lot of my fellow Booktropers, or ex-Tropers as we have dubbed ourselves, are already making plans to move forward. Some will self-publish; others will seek another publisher. Sadly, some have said they are done, that the potential for this happening again is not worth the paltry returns they might receive for their work.

I’m not sure which direction I will go. In all honesty, seeing the legal web we’re now tangled in as we wait for the company to answer the hundreds of questions now flying around on their website and in the Facebook group, I am hesitant to sign any kind of contract with anyone ever again. Self-publishing looks like a good option, but having done that before and seeing how hesitant many bookstores were to carry a self-published book, I am hesitant to go that direction as well.

Here’s what I do know: The Kyrie Carter series will go on, but there will be some changes.

I am a Christian, so at the end of the day, my faith is not in what I can do for myself, or in what a publisher can do for me, but in what God can do, and He gave me a plan yesterday that I am going to move forward with as soon as my head settles enough to think straight. I do not have all the details yet, but I know He does. I’d like to tell you what I do know.

I am not going to re-release The Newbie and School Spirits, at least not in their present form. They will still be paranormal mystery, and the plot will be the same, but there will be a little different spin. This decision has not come easily, and I have deeply grieved it as though it were the death of a person. These books are a piece of my life, and I love them almost as much as I love my flesh-and-blood children. But I feel that in order to move on, I need to lay them to rest.

I am just about halfway through Book 3, and as I said in my previous post, I’ve been much more in Kyr’s head about the struggle between her religious upbringing and her experiences with the paranormal. That aspect has been completely glossed over if mentioned at all in the first two books, and it seems disjointed to me. Since I already have Book 4 partially laid out in my head, and I know that the faith/paranormal struggle becomes even more of an issue in that book, for the purposes of continuity, I need to address the issue from the very start of Kyr’s story.

The fact also remains that much of Kyr’s struggle is in truth a bit autobiographical; I have had many of the same experiences, questions, and doubts that Kyr has. These novels have been a way for me to explore my own questions, fears, struggles, and doubts. After years of studying the Bible and talking to others and reading up on the subject, I feel as though I have come to a place where I am comfortable with who I am, what I know, and what I will never know. God has met me where I am and given me some answers, and He has told me to stop spending so much time and energy seeking other answers.

This is where yesterday’s revelation comes in. What I am planning to do is to revise Books 1 and 2 to get more in her head and show that conflict more clearly. It will also be a way for me to document my own journey with the paranormal as seen through the eyes of someone with a Christian upbringing. If I let myself think about the nightmare this will be as far as placing it into a genre, it scares me. Is it mystery? Is it paranormal? Is it Christian? Is it some kind of Pseudo-Memoir?

Not. A. Clue.

It certainly won’t be your typical vanilla Christian fiction. The paranormal subject matter is only one aspect of the story that some of my Christian friends may be uncomfortable with. Kyr’s faith is often shaky at best, and her friends, relatives, and colleagues cover just about every worldview you can think of, and as open-minded as Kyr is, very few of those worldviews are painted as evil or wrong. There is also romance in the Kyrie Carter series, but it also isn’t what you’d expect to see in a work of Christian fiction. Kyr has made the commitment to remain a virgin until her wedding night, but as she gets more involved with Spook, she struggles with her desire for him. Do I give in, or do I remain faithful to my personal vow? In our hyper-sexualized world, I think it’s something  that single people deal with.

For those who aren’t Christian, I hope that the faith aspect of the stories won’t turn you away. There is a little preaching going on, mostly on the part of Kyr’s highly-opinionated, strictly-religious oldest brother, but for the most part it’s about Kyr wrestling with her own demons and learning how to make her beliefs her own. In biblical terms, she is “working out her salvation with fear and trembling” (Phillippians 2:12). There are other belief systems present in this story, just as there are in real life. She comes in contact with atheists and pagans, and Spook has dealt with Catholics, Protestants, and Jews. She does not outright reject anyone or anyone’s beliefs, but weighs them and tests them to determine what she might learn from them, much the same as I do.

Anyway, I’m very tired, and I’m getting to the point where I’m going to start babbling (maybe I’ve already started, judging by the length of this post). I just wanted to put something out there to assure my friends and followers that I may step back for a bit while I figure out what’s next. As I said, I don’t know what avenue I’ll take as far as publishing, and I don’t know what the final product will look like.

But Kyrie Carter’s adventures will go on.