September ’23 Newsletter


Welcome to the Newsletter!

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoy it and will share it with your friends and family.

Recent Announcements:

No recent major releases! Check out my work at the Sinister Scoop to see what I’ve done lately: The Scoop

Information on my publications can always be found at My Website

Project Progress:

My hired editor is working away on the current draft of my manuscript, and I have put all other creative projects on hold in the meantime to focus on other obligations. I do have one short story on submission, and will update with any information about that on my socials. It is likely that this one will be published via a pen name (if it is accepted at all), so expect direct promotion to be lacking.

Recent Fascinations:

a pathway leads to the front door of a large 19th century mansion. It is bordered by towering cyprus on both sides.
Photo: Roanoke Home, taken by me.

I’m preparing to move for the third time in my life. The first time was for graduate school, the second immediately following graduate school, and this time will, hopefully, be the last time for a long, long time. I won’t go too much into that, I demand at least some semblance of privacy in this post-digital hellscape, but I think it goes without saying that the process of buying a house and moving is a pretty significant distraction . Because of that, and my manuscript’s general status being out of my hands at the moment, I’ve been focusing on a few short stories and generally just trying to get by. Still, my mind has, of course, wandered at least a little to the general creative mechanisms that lie behind my writing. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my writing’s relationship to the concept of place. 

For most of my time as a writer, I have called myself a character writer. I’ve often claimed that characterization is the central focus of my stories, many times in relation to at least some degree of discovery writer methodology (which is a topic I plan on covering soon, likely in November). That’s always been the way I framed my writing style, but during the editing process with this current sci-fantasy project, I’ve been forced to reconsider the central conceit of my style. I don’t necessarily mean this in a negative way. Editing is a process that has to happen, and my writing needing more work on characters is not anything unusual. However, the persistent problems I had with characterization in recent drafts was put in sharp contrast with something I, for the most part, seemed to have gotten right the first time: the sense of place. 

As I started paying more attention to my relationship to place, I realized that throughout essentially everything I’ve written as an adult, a sense of rooted, specific geography is front and center. My three published short stories are all set in my own modified version of Mississippi. The natural geography and physical sense of place of the small towns that I love so much about my home state are as much of a character as any others. In my current main WIP, place is so important to setting the tone and delivering the world building that I have spent countless hours ensuring that the way I have crafted this world is as accurate to my mental image as possible. 

I think it’s fitting that as I’m preparing to move I have started paying closer attention to my writing and its relationship to geography, setting, and the general sense of place. From the sloping, meager waterfalls of Tishomingo State Park to the quiet, pine bordered streets of a fictionalized Smyrna, Mississippi, and even into the vastness of an abandoned and strange library, my writing is rooted in a feeling of place. This entire concept is still something I’m working to get my head around, but since I started looking closer at my use of place I’ve noticed that my understanding of my own writing has improved. I’ve started paying closer attention to those strengths, and it has helped me improve my focus on characters too. As I’ve honed that sense of place, so too has the interactions my characters have with the world around them improved. 

As the move is coming (hopefully) closer, and the geography of my life is changing, in turn becoming decidedly more urban, I can feel a draw to focus more and more on the beauty and personality of the rural world that constructed me. That built me up from red Mississippi clay and old growth loblolly. A sense of place, sometimes dark and horrible, but always there. I am a writer made up of geographies. 

Thanks for reading.

Thanks for taking the time to read my newsletter.

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