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Tilly Munro

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"Through the Mist: Adrift" is here.

Drum roll....

The novella, Through the Mist: Adrift, is available on Amazon. And, if you have Kindle Unlimited, you can read it for free. If you don't, the ebook price is affordable at 99 cents. The paperback is a reasonable $3.99.

Since it is a brand new entry, you may need to search for that exact title. It could take Amazon a few days to catch up.

So, why would you want to read the novella instead of waiting for the sequel? The novella is meant to bridge the gap between Restoration and Reunion. A lot happened after Tilly Munro disappeared.

When Beth Hunter Madison and her friend Tilly embarked on a road trip in Scotland, it was meant to be a fun romp in the Highlands. As we know, the trip took a tragic turn when Tilly disappeared into the mist.

Beth is haunted by her part in the tragedy. Her marriage collapses. Her career is in ruins. Desperate to save her career, she jumps at an opportunity in Scotland. She must return to the place where Tilly disappeared. In doing so, she finds a new purpose for her life.

She also discovers love in an unexpected place. Unfortunately, the man lives in a different time.

You may be asking yourself, "Do I really need to read this novella?" Well, I will be brutally honest - no, you don't. Then again, do you really need to order dessert? Do you need chocolate?

The novella will add an extra layer to the sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion. My goal is to release the sequel later this month, so you won't have to wait long.

Happy reading - and thank you for your patience while I finish the sequel.

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Sequel Progress

How’s that sequel coming along?

If you follow the posts on Facebook, you know that I am in revision mode right now. I completed another read-through this week. I am not satisfied with the opening section. It is too long. I just don’t think the average reader will stick around until the “good stuff” happens in the middle.

The sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion, is meant to pick up around the time of the epilogue in the first book, Through the Mist: Restoration. Beth has returned to Scotland. Why? What happened, because the epilogue sounds ominous? It does not sound as if life has turned out well for her.

Also, Benjamin and Tilly’s story ended with what seemed like a “happily ever after.” A few threats to their happiness remained, though. Did their love story end well?

I would love to hear any questions you have about the book, either the first one or the sequel. Maybe you have a question I had not considered. Feel free to comment here or on FB.

In the meantime, thanks for reading!

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Through the Mist: Reunion

Yesterday, I announced on Facebook the working title for the sequel. In case you missed it, the title is Through the Mist: Reunion.

I am still hard at work on the sequel to the first novel of the series, Through the Mist: Restoration. I started worked last January but got serious about it after the publication of the first book. To be brutally honest, I had a lot to learn about the craft of storytelling. Serious revisions were necessary for Restoration. I am still learning!

As I hinted on Facebook, the sequel picks up with Beth. The epilogue of the first book hinted that something happened. We will learn what’s happened with her life since Tilly’s mysterious disappearance.

Fans of Benjamin and Tilly will not be disappointed. They are back in the sequel too.

My hope is to finish the book by fall. Ideally, I want to publish it late fall/early winter. We will see. As I have said many, many times, I want this book to be worth the time and money you will spend on it.

In the meantime, I am happy to hear any feedback or answer any questions you have. Thanks for reading!

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Character Insights: Tilly's Parents

Our upbringing deeply impacts who we become as adults. When I created the character of Tilly Munro, I knew I needed to develop a back story for her parents. I did not go too deep, because they are only briefly mentioned in the first book, Through the Mist: Restoration.

Margaret and Raymond Munro were simple people. I envision that they lived in the country and led ordinary lives. Margaret was a teacher. Raymond worked at a factory that made furniture, until the factory closed. He was unable to find work and remained unemployed until he died of a heart attack.

Money was always tight in the Munro household. This forced Tilly to work at a young age. She began babysitting, as most underage kids too. When she was legally old enough to work, she did. She never stopped working. Her parents taught her that’s what you must do to survive.

Tilly is an only child. Her mother gave birth to her late in life, around 35. The Munros figured they were not lucky enough to have children, so Tilly’s arrival was a surprise.

As I mentioned, Tilly’s father Raymond died of a heart attack. A few months after his death, his wife Margaret died too. She could not imagine life without him. They were soulmates.

Tilly’s parents gave her a blueprint for a marriage. They had rocky times, but they persevered. They loved each other deeply.

When Tilly looks at her own relationship with Benjamin, she thinks about her parents. Keep that in mind when we get to Book Two. They will cast a shadow. Because you have the inside scoop, you will know!

P.S.

You may notice that I refer to her parents as the Munros. Tilly did not take Alex’s last name when they married. I scanned Through the Mist: Restoration and do not believe I referenced it. Please let me know if I did.

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Tilly Munro: Character Insights, Part 3

For the last two weeks, I shared some insights into the character development for Tilly Munro, the central character in my book, Through the Mist: Restoration.

When Tilly travels back in time to 1801, it is quite a shock for her. I wanted to sprinkle little bits of history throughout the book and help the reader imagine how different it would be. No running water. No toilets. Even meal times would be different.

I had to alter my vocabulary. I don’t know if it is a Southern thing, but I have always called the last meal of the day “supper.” Well, “dinner” would be the more appropriate term. So, I retrained myself to use “dinner.”

The elaborate feast chronicled in the book is based upon research about dinners of the time. They were a big deal. Can you imagine what it would be like to spend hours at the table, with more dishes than two humans could eat? There must have been a lot of waste.

In the next book, I might describe the full feast. Yes, there was even more to it than what I described in my book. Why didn’t I include it? I envision that Benjamin would have maintained some of the traditions, yet not all. He knew how to entertain, since his father invited English nobles to the estate for many years. He preferred to keep meals less formal. Still, it is quite an affair.

I hope you have enjoyed the character discussions over the last few weeks. It is hard to pack every little detail in a book. I am glad to answer any questions you may have.

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Tilly Munro: Character Insights, Part 2

Last week, we learned a bit about how Tilly’s background motivated her to keep moving. What about her marriage to Alex? It is mentioned in the book. We do not hear much about it though.

Since Through the Mist: Restoration is Benjamin and Tilly’s love story, I did not want to dwell too much on previous relationships. After all, when you date someone, do you really want that person to spend hours telling you all about past loves? Not really.

Tilly worked as a waitress at a restaurant with Beth while both ladies were in college. She met her future husband Alex one night when he came into the restaurant. He was a successful consultant who travelled all over the world, helping investment groups and individual chefs open restaurants. He has a culinary degree and has cooked in famous restaurants, so he knows his stuff.  He is older than Tilly. (I still have not decided how much older; it is not really a burning question right now.)

Tilly graduated from college not long after they met. They fell hard for each other and married six months after they met. She became pregnant with the twins right away. She managed to squeeze in a year of teaching before she left to care for the kids.

Her dream was to be a school teacher like her mother. Alex supported her dream and encouraged her to attend college when the kids were old enough. She earned her master’s degree and had hoped to teach at the same school her children attended.

While Alex was supportive of Tilly’s desire to teach, he was not the greatest husband. As a consultant, his job was not based in one location. He frequently travelled, leaving Tilly alone to raise the children. He once confided to Tilly that having children so late in life was not his plan. Now, he must work harder as a result. The kids would “cost a lot of money” that he originally planned to save for retirement. You can imagine how devastating that statement was. It put a great deal of strain on their marriage.

With Alex constantly away, Tilly felt like a single parent. She longed for a partner. More importantly, she wanted her children to know their father. He was seldom home, only spending a few days there before popping off for another job. It was not the life she wanted.

About a year before “the event” happened, Tilly threatened divorce. Alex finally listened. They opened a small restaurant so he could be in the same city. His hours were long there. Still, he came home every night and was there the next morning to take the kids to school. It was a start.

Alex and Tilly were also in couples’ therapy. The age difference and absence took its toll. Tilly was not sure if the damage could be repaired.

Tilly has a clear idea of what she needs in a relationship. She wants an equal partner in a marriage. She wants love. She wants respect. She wants trust. Benjamin will have quite the challenge providing all of that! 

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Tilly Munro: Character Insights, Part 1

Through the Mist: Restoration is really Tilly’s story. I will try not to give away too much in this post, because some people are either reading the book now or have not discovered it yet.

Tilly Munro is a strong woman. She was a babysitter before she was old enough to legally work a “real job.” When she was of age, she worked part time throughout high school. Once she entered college, she worked as a waitress. That’s where she met her best friend Beth.

Her entire life has been work, work, work. Her background was humble. Her mother was a school teacher, a job that sadly does not pay well. Her father made furniture at a factory until it closed. He was unable to find work after the factory closure. Money was always tight. If Tilly wanted anything, she had to work for it. This included her college education.

I modeled Tilly after the amazing women of the area in which I live. I have personally known some of them and read about others. The people who settled here in the 1700s were resilient. It was not an easy place to live. That same courage and determination runs deep in the DNA of their descendants. I wanted to capture that spirit in Tilly. She experiences a life-altering event, yet, in her mind, she must pick herself up and move on. She cannot conceive of any other choice.

When we begin her story, it is one year after this event. She has taken the first steps toward creating a new life. She wants to turn the page, so to speak, and start living again. Her life has been on “pause.” She agrees to take a road trip through Scotland with Beth. She feels it will be a nice way to start the next chapter. She never imagined the changes that await her.

I confess that I debated if one year was enough time. In the original draft, I described life days after it happened. Tilly and Beth began their adventure a few months later. I changed it because that timeframe was way too soon. Also, the chapters were so depressing. I wanted the story to be uplifting but doubted anyone could stick around long enough to get to the juicy bits. After all, this was supposed to be a “fun” story. There is nothing “fun” about the weeks following what happened to Tilly. To pretend that there is would do a great disservice to anyone who has gone through this event.

So, is one year long enough to wait? As I examined her character, I felt it was. Tilly would allow herself to grieve but would not be consumed by it. In her life, she never had the ability to sit still. She must keep moving.

I view this book as a story of hope and strength. Let’s not forget that Benjamin too has his own tragedy. Both characters could choose to be bitter, and no one would blame them. Instead, they decide move forward. They decide to be brave and choose love.

 

Next week, I will continue the discussion about Tilly. I want to discuss the state of her marriage to Alex. I hint about it in the book but do not go into a great deal of detail. Knowing a bit more about her past experience with love will be interesting – or at least I believe it is!

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Benjamin Campbell: Character Insight

When I began writing Through the Mist: Restoration, I wanted the story to have a different spin than the usual time travel novel. (No offense to that type of book.) I wanted my story to be different.

Typically, the male protagonist is a dashing laird who fought for the Jacobite cause. He is a fine Scottish hero, more fantasy than reality. The heroine resists his charms but eventually succumbs to his strong...ahem...personality.

Yeah….no.

For starters, my book is set in 1801. The Jacobite rebellion had long passed, and the title of “laird” would not have been used. The clan system was essentially destroyed after the ’45 Rising. Times were very, very different.

Then, I wanted the character to be a Campbell. That particular clan is quite notorious. In the infamous ’45, they sided with the British and fought at Culloden. To borrow from Outlander, the Campbells would have tried to kill our beloved Jamie. So, how do you craft a hero from someone who did not come from the traditional Scottish hero’s ancestry?

I decided that Benjamin should be the second son. In my research, I discovered that the first son inherited everything. Any progeny that followed would have been left to his/her own devices. In the book, Benjamin alludes to his original plan to become a soldier, a common profession for second sons.

His father Malcolm is a ruthless man. He pinned all his hopes on the first son, Allan, so Benjamin grew up with the MacIvers. Robert MacIver is the Campbell estate’s factor; his son Iain is Benjamin’s best friend and will one day become the estate’s factor, just like his dad.

Benjamin spent more time among “the common folk,” as his father would have called them, and did not have any pretensions about his stature in the family. When he is finally thrust into a powerful role, he feels compassion for and camaraderie with people who attempt to scrape out a meager existence. He does not have his father’s greedy ways. As a man who had a simple upbringing, he can feel shame and remorse for the actions of his grandfather and father. He too has own sins. (In a very moving scene, he reveals them to Tilly.)

His humility serves him well when he interacts with Tilly. As someone with a dark past, he does not judge her as harshly as others might. He does not have the formality that one would expect from men in that time. To put it simply, he was not “raised that way.”

He also does not take the traditional role of protector. In many books, the hero rushes in at the critical moment and saves the damsel in distress. That does not happen in my book. Tilly is a strong woman. She takes action; she is the hero.

In the next book, we will continue to explore Benjamin’s character. We already know that a lot of tension exists between Benjamin and his father. What will Malcolm think when he learns that Benjamin has settled his affections on someone who may not be “the best prospect” for a marriage? What could the man really do? And, most importantly, why doesn’t Benjamin tell him to go to hell? Come on, dude – you love Tilly. Stand up for her!

As you can see, I spent a lot of time crafting the story behind this character. I needed all of this detail in order to understand his motivations and actions. If you have any questions about Benjamin or any other characters/scenes/et cetera, please leave a comment. I would love to hear your thoughts. 

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