Happy Spring!

Spring is here, my crabapples are blooming, and I’m fully vaccinated and on Saturday got to visit with my family in person and without a mask for the first time in over a year! 🙂

Since my last post Jasper had surgery, which was stressful and scary—but it went amazingly well! He had a mass on his liver, and the day of surgery the vets did a CT scan and found something in one of his lungs that was so tiny it hadn’t shown up on the X-rays. We paused everything and spent the next week talking with multiple vets and fretting about what to do. We decided to take out both things in the hope that they weren’t related. And they weren’t! We got so lucky—if it hadn’t been for the benign thing on his liver, we wouldn’t have even known about the thing in his lung until it was too late. Hooray!!!!!

While all of that was going on, I was wrapping up the last bits for Fresh Starts, the first ever Pikes Peak Writers Anthology. Lou J Berger and I co-edited all of the stories, I formatted the book, Jenny Kate edited the poems, and Jenny and Kathie Scrimgeour handled marketing. Josh Clark, one of our authors, designed the cover.

And check out this awesome quote about the anthology!

“FRESH STARTS bursts with wonderful stories that showcase exciting new literary voices! Very highly recommended!” –Jonathan Maberry, NY Times bestselling author of V-WARS and INK

Pulling all that together was a lot of fun, and a lot of hard work. Lou and I went through all stories, memoirs, and non-fiction and narrowed the 200+ manuscripts down to 23. Lou then took on the heroic task of first editor for all but the two manuscripts I handled. We went through multiple rounds of edits, and while that took a ton of time, I really enjoyed working with Lou. Co-editing is a pretty big task to do together, and it was great to see how compatible we are. We might even collaborate on another project in the future!

Speaking of editing, I also edited and published a new anthology on my own: Magicks & Enchantments. I’ve wanted to put this one together for a while, but between the pandemic, my day job, and the time I spent on Fresh Starts, it took longer than planned to get this out. But now it’s finally published! It’s the first issue in a new anthology series, and the plan is to publish one issue/year, which is the same thing I’ll be doing for the Haunted anthology series.

I’m trying to be careful with how many anthology projects I commit to so I can make progress on writing novels. I’ve got two more anthologies in the works right now, and hope to get those wrapped up and published soon. I’ll also have a new novel out in June. It doesn’t have a title yet, so hopefully I can come up with one I like. 🙂 It’s been extra hard to find time, so while it’s great that I beat my personal record and hit 14 meetings/day at the day job multiple times, I’d much rather spend my evenings writing than working.

Here’s a sample from “Diamond Betty,” my short story in Magicks & Enchantments.

I leaned against a pillar of marble, tucked a stray curl behind my ear, and took as deep a breath possible given the ridiculously tight corset I wore. I rummaged through my beaded satin handbag, pushing aside the tiny, ribbon-wrapped spells I’d prepared ahead of time as I pretended to look for something—but I was really watching my target out of the corner of my eye.

Elizabeth Mercy Lévesque—or, as she was known here in Denver, Colorado, Diamond Betty—stood in the center of the mezzanine of the opera house, light glinting off the giant blue diamond that was the centerpiece of her necklace. Her flame-red hair stood out against her ermine opera cloak like a splotch of wine on a white linen tablecloth. She held a flute of champagne in one hand; her other hand rested on the arm of her new husband, Cornelius Montgomery. Betty said something I couldn’t make out from this distance, and then tossed her head back with a laugh like the pealing of bells. The crowd of well-dressed, well-coiffed, and well-to-do ladies and gentlemen surrounding her joined in, a few giving soft, polite claps.

Cornelius started a silver mining company right after he left the Union Army, invested in real estate and other mining holdings, and by the mid-1870s he was worth well over five million dollars. He’d met Betty in Leadville. She’d been part of a traveling theater troupe, a singer, or perhaps a seamstress; no one seemed clear on exactly what. There was, however, no doubt about what had happened next: Cornelius left his wife of twenty-seven years, set up extravagantly appointed hotel suites in both Leadville and Denver for Betty, and began what turned into a two-year battle to get a divorce his wife. Somewhere along the way he’d acquired an elaborate necklace studded with diamonds and sapphires, with a large, dark blue diamond pendant; Betty had worn it at their lavish midsummer wedding a few months earlier. The newspapers said the necklace cost close to $100,000.

I’d come here for the necklace. Not because of how much it was worth, but because the blue diamond contained a demon.

—from “Diamond Betty,” in Magicks & Enchantments

Happy Spring!!!

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