Hi, guys. I’m back. Like a bad penny, I keep turning up. But don’t blame me. Blame Amanda and the other folks at Naked Reader Press who think it’s important that I blog. You see, I’d much rather be hiding at my desk, happily writing my next book. Social media scares me. Well, not exactly but I still haven’t gotten the hang of it.
Anyway, the nice folks at Naked Reader suggested I let you in on what I’m working on now. I won’t say the suggestion was made with a pointed boot, but Amanda did mention something about a kick to a certain part of my anatomy if I didn’t. Since she looked really serious when she said it, I decided not to argue.
So, let me introduce you to The South Will Rise Again. It’s a bit different from what I’ve done before. It’s part mystery, part ghost story and part romance. It isn’t about the Civil War, at least not directly, nor is it about the issues that led to that dark time in our country’s history. The title comes from a line in the book where the main character comments that when folks say “the South will rise again”, she isn’t sure they meant what’s happening in her home town of Mossy Creek. And no, it isn’t a paranormal romance, at least not in the truest sense of the word. As one of my beta readers said, it isn’t “lady porn with sparkly vampires”. In fact, there’s not a vampire in sight in it. Nor is there a werewolf or shape shifter. What there is is a long time mystery that has to be solved before our intrepid heroine finds herself disappearing as permanently as her parents did almost twenty years before.
This book has been a bit of a trial to write. Not because I didn’t like the characters or the plot. I love them, more than is probably wise. No, this has been a difficult write because it has only wanted to be written in the dark of night, usually around 2 AM. The problem with that is I’m not a night person. There isn’t enough tea in the world to keep me functional at that hour. As a result, I was late turning the manuscript in and I blame it completely on my characters. It’s their fault. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
To peak your interest — I hope. Oh boy, do I hope – here is a very short excerpt from TSWRA.
* * *
Eight years ago, I made my escape. With my acceptance to the University of Kansas in hand, I said my goodbyes to my aunt and ran just as fast as I could away from the town where I’d grown up. With each hour that took me further and further from my childhood home, the stronger my conviction became that I’d never move back. Sure, I’d go home for visits. But there was absolutely no way I’d ever willingly return for more than a few days at a time.
Well, what can I say? My plans were all set. I graduated with my B.A. and I was accepted into graduate school at Texas Tech University. I’d initially hesitated because that brought me closer to home. But, reputation aside, Lubbock proved to be perfect. The flat land of West Texas didn’t’ bother me, nor did the sandstorms when you’d swear New Mexico, and possibly Arizona, were blowing through. With the exceptions of those Saturdays when the Red Raiders played a home football game, the town was quiet enough to keep me studying instead of finding ways to get into trouble.
Not that I need any help with that.
Graduation came and went — and so did my job. Resumes went out as did the contents of my bank account. Which is how I managed to wind up right back where I started. Despite all my plans, the need to work brought me back home when nothing else could. Now I’m not so sure it was a good idea. Especially since it seems like I might be losing my mind.
Maybe I already have.
“Melanie, you have to watch out!”
Mrs. Simpson grabbed my arm and held on with a fierce grip. Her pale blue eyes burned with a passion I’m sure her husband would have enjoyed seeing at least once in awhile. But why she’d chosen to turn it on me here, in the middle of the Piggly Wiggly in beautiful downtown Mossy Creek, was beyond me.
Hopefully, it would stay that way.
“Ma’am?” I couldn’t help it. My Aunt Rosalee had raised me to be respectful of my elders and Mrs. Simpson was certainly that. She’d been my first grade Sunday school teacher twenty years ago.
“They’re here, Melanie. They’re here.” Her voice dropped to a whisper, so soft I could barely hear her.
“Who’s here, Mrs. Simpson?”
“They are. They walk amongst us and you have to watch out.”
Oh, wonderful. That certainly cleared things up. They are here, whoever they are. Why couldn’t I learn to keep my mouth shut and my head down?
“Sure, Mrs. Simpson. I’ll keep an eye out for them.” Right now, however, I’d better keep an eye out for Mr. Simpson or anyone else who could take her off my hands.
“You just watch yourself, Melanie. Or they’ll take you too.”
With that, she turned and bustled off. That’s the only way to describe it. Head and shoulders forward, rear end sticking out as if she was wearing an old-fashioned bustle, she hurried down the aisle away from me. All I could do was stand there and stare. I’m sure my mouth was open. Fortunately, the manager at the Piggly Wiggly frowns on his staff letting flying insects in. Otherwise, I’m sure I’d have caught something. Finally, I closed my mouth – no, not with a snap. That’s not only silly, but it would hurt – and turned my shopping cart in the opposite direction from the one Mrs. Simpson took. Shopping done or not, it was time to get out of there before something else happened.
The problem is, this sort of thing had been happening with disturbing frequency ever since I returned to Mossy Creek a month ago. At first, I simply put it up to the fact that, well, most folks here are a bit different. Secretly, I think it’s because most of them have never left the town for more than a few days. Worse, that’s how it’s been for generations. You’re born here, live here and die here.
But not me. No, siree. I’d made my escape years ago, college-bound and determined never to move back. Unfortunately, the realities of a down economy and, with my luck, some arcane forces I’ve never heard of combined to change my mind. Since I didn’t relish the thought of flipping burgers at some fast food joint or running a cash register at the local big box retailer, I’d finally given in and accepted a job with the county attorney.
And, figuratively kicking and screaming if not literally doing so, I’d moved home.
* * *
The South Will Rise Again will be published this December. In the meantime, you can find my first book, Wedding Bell Blues, on Amazon, BN.com, Smashwords and other retailers. It is free at most of them until the end of September.