Fiction Friday: Book update and a glimpse at the next book in the Spencer Valley Chronicles series.

This week I thought I’d give an update on where the manuscript for Beauty From Ashes is. It’s now in the hands of a couple of editors but one of those editors has been piled under work and the other is sick with Covid. For those reasons and a couple of others, I’ve pushed back the release date of the book from April 26 to May 10. This will hopefully give me time to implement some suggestions from early readers and make any changes my editor wants me to make before the book is released, without my head exploding.

The book will have some extra scenes from what I shared on the blog and it will also be missing a couple of others. There have been several changes from the first draft, which is mainly what was shared on the blog, but none so huge they change the entire plot of the book.

The biggest thing I have had to remind myself during the process this time is my author tagline of “just have fun.” I wasn’t having fun with writing recently, was taking myself a bit too seriously, and trying to be something I am not.  I didn’t start writing these stories to be a traditionally published author so focused on career that they lose site of who they really are. This isn’t to say that traditionally published authors don’t know who they are but I know that I would lose that if I was traditionally published and being told what I have to write, how to write it, and when to write it. It would stress me out to no end but that is because I am stressed out by a lot. There are other writers are not stressed out by every little thing and while I’m working on not being stressed out by things (I swear I’ve come a long way, even though I have a long way to go), right now in my life I need to take the easiest road possible to tell my stories.

So, anyhow, while I wait for more rewrite suggestions for Beauty From Ashes, I am starting to write a couple of other books, including Mercy’s Shore, which will be the next book in the Spencer Valley Chronicles series.

Because I often share everything first with my blog readers, this is the tentative cover of the book.

It could definitely change before the final publication sometime next year (or maybe late this year if I really get some inspiration and push forward fast on this book).

Mercy’s Shore will focus on Molly Tanner’s ex-boyfriend Ben Oliver and possibly on Ellie’s obnoxious, recovering-alcoholic sister, Judi Lambert. I haven’t definitively decided if Judi will be in the story or not. Similar to Beauty From Ashes, the book will not be a strict romance. I won’t give too much away, but it is possible Judi and Ben will not be romantically linked throughout the book.

After all, Ben has some amends to make to his ex-girlfriend Angie and to their daughter, Amelia, who he abandoned while trying to earn his law degree and pass the bar. In Mercy’s Shore, we will learn more about why that happened and what led Ben to be so focused on career over family.

I’m still plotting this one out, but thought I would share with you what I’ve written so far, which is literally a few paragraphs that may or may not end up being in the final book.

When the world stopped spinning, Ben Oliver was upside down, his seatbelt digging into his chest. Underneath him were shards of glass and something warm and slippery dripped into his eyes.

For a moment he thought it was oil from the engine. Even when red splattered the shattered windshield beneath him he couldn’t comprehend it was him that was bleeding. Of course it was him bleeding. He’d been the only one in the car when he’d jerked the wheel to the right to miss the deer and had sent his silver BMW careening over the embankment.

So, this is it, he thought. This is how it all ends. Not with a whimper but a bang after all.

A lot of bangs actually. He was sure that his BMW was totaled but worse than that was the pain searing through his sternum, back, and head, not to mention the blood now pooling in the shards of broken glass. He was beginning to wonder if he was totaled as well.

His hand slipped up to the seatbelt buckle, searching for the button to release it, but then he hesitated. If he released it there was a bed of glass waiting for him. He had to think this through, brace his legs and arms somehow before he released himself from his upside down prison.

In the end it didn’t matter anyhow. The seatbelt buckle wouldn’t release, no matter how many times he hit it and he was left to listen to the metal of the car creaking and groaning as it settled into its new position on its roof in the middle of the woods.

I’m not sure if I will share this one on the blog or not.

I’m also not sure if I will be sharing any of Lily on the blog, which is a different type of book for me and the other book I am working on. Lily will be based on the character Lily from A New Beginning, the book about Blanche Robins and Judson T. Wainwright.

Spoiler alert if you haven’t read the book — If you remember, Lily became pregnant at 15 after she slept with a man who had drugs she wanted. Blanche’s sister, Edith, and brother-in-law, Jimmy, were going to adopt Lily’s baby and in the end, decided to take Lily in as well.

Lily will be written in the first person and though the topic matter will be dark, I’m going to try to not make the entire book dark and depressing. There will be hope, especially as the book progresses and marches to the end. I am in the plotting stages of this book as well. When I write “plotting” I should mention that I have considered myself a “panster” writer in the past. A panster in writing is a person who writes by the seat of their pants and simply sees where the story will go.

For future books, I’ll be considering myself a hybrid pantser-plotter fiction writer. I will be plotting some of the book while also writing away and seeing where it goes. I want to plot more of the stories out from now on but also not plot so much that the book feels stale and cookie-cutter or formulaic. All books are formulaic in a way, I recognize that, but some genres make a book feel even more formulaic and predictable than others and Christian fiction is one of the worse for that. I don’t know if I will continue writing under the strict Christian fiction genre, but I do know my books will remain “clean.”

I’ve shared a little of Lily on here before, but will share a few paragraphs here to give you an idea of why it will be a different book for me.

That lady social worker said it didn’t hurt to push out a baby.

She lied.

It hurt like that place Mama said I was gonna go for getting pregnant in the first place. I never felt so much pain in my life. I thought I was going to die.

They wanted me to hold the baby, but I didn’t want to. She wasn’t mine anyhow. She belonged to those people I’d met at the agency.

That baby was squawking and hollering; all red and squishy and ugly. I told that nurse to take it away and let those people who were going to be her parents deal with it.

I don’t remember much after that. I slept for hours and hours. Everything in my body hurt and I was so weak I could barely stand. When I opened my eyes, it was dark, and I knew I had to get out of there.

Having something growing in you for nine months is weird.

Pushing it out through your private area while you scream is weird.

Giving that baby to people you only met once is weird too.

It’s all as weird as what that man did to me that left that baby in my belly in the first place.

The nurses didn’t hear me leave.

That social worker wasn’t even there.

My clothes were in a drawer by the bed at the hospital and I changed into them quickly. I cried because it hurt so bad all over. The area where that baby came from hurt the worse. Blood ran down my leg and I wiped it away.

I walked a long way to get to Mama. Wind whipped my hair across my face, cold bit at my bare skin. My stomach ached from hunger and my body screamed for sleep. I didn’t think I’d makeit.

I could barely lift my hand to pound on the door to her apartment when I finally got there. She didn’t open it for a long time and when she did, she was angry.

“How did you even find your way back here?”

She spat the words out like chew in a bucket.

“Mama, I’m tired.” I clutched at my stomach. “Hungry.”

“What do you want me to do about it? Didn’t those social workers feed you anything?”

“Mama —“

“Don’t call me Mama. You know I don’t like that.” She scowled in disgust. “You’re bleeding all over the hallway. You have that baby yet?”

I nodded weakly, wincing when she grabbed my upper arm, ripping me forward into the darkness of the apartment, bouncing my side off a wall.

“Get in here and stop bleeding on my rug.”

She shoved me down the hallway toward the living room. I collapsed on the couch, grasping at the musty smelling cushions as the room began to spin.

Maybe it was days. Maybe it was hours. Maybe it was weeks  before there were voices at the door and strong arms lifting me. I don’t really remember. It was all a blur of sweat and pain and Mama’s pinched and angry face, her screams cutting through my nightmares.

That day was the last time I saw Mama.

Now I’m living here in this place with a bunch of trees and open fields and a stream like I saw a picture of once in a book.

I don’t know what life will be like now, but anything has got to be better than where I came from.

So that is my Fiction Friday update. Hopefully in future weeks, I will have some original fiction to share with you, especially if I decide to blog Mercy’s Shore, which I hope to be able to write a little bit faster than other books.

10 thoughts on “Fiction Friday: Book update and a glimpse at the next book in the Spencer Valley Chronicles series.

  1. Pingback: Sunday Bookends: Call Me A Cab, wishing it was actually spring, and an Irish tune for you | Boondock Ramblings

  2. It was so good to read some of your next stories that you are processing! And I think Lily’s story deserves telling. You have a way of conveying a character’s heart, and Lily’s heart has such a hunger for light underneath that darkness. Anyway, that’s what my heart feels when I read your stories. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. I love the openings to both! What I do love the most about what you write and how you write it is that it does feel like a lot of fun. Most writers take themselves so seriously and things get crazy in that world, but the fact that you write and publish for fun just makes reading your books a fun experience.

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    • The fun feel of my books is why I hesitate to write the Lily one. I don’t want it to get too dark. It’s a dark subject for sure but I want to find some joy in all too. Hopefully I can do that. I Know I can find some humor with the books from Spencer Valley because I have some quirky characters in those.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I can certainly understand that (and do so love all those quirky characters!), but I have complete faith in your writing skills. You tackle a lot of difficult and dark subjects, but always handle them so well with so much care.


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