Life this summer did not go as I expected so this is my long explanation on why book 5 in the Madame Chalamet book series has taken this long.

During a chaotic 18 months, the Madame Chalamet series launched: Ghost Talker (October 2022), Delicious Death (December 2022), Spirit Guide (February 2023), and Gray Lady (April 2023). I kept up the writing and editing at a very good pace and thought the series would be finished by the end of 2023 but suddenly life had other plans for me.

As those who followed me on social media know, I sold my house of 25+ years back in the spring of 2022. We moved down to Norman, Oklahoma as a temporary measure, knowing the long term plan was to move out of state.

We picked Norman for several reasons, the primary one being that our youngest son was finishing his last year of college at the University of Oklahoma. My mother-in-law also lived in Oklahoma City (about 30 minutes away). In the end this became a fortunate decision, for a few months later she was diagnosed with brain cancer. This was from the breast cancer she had experienced in 2019 and which had since metastasized.

My husband was able to help his sister, who also lived locally, in caring for her until she passed away in August of 2022. She had a peaceful passing at home surrounded by loved ones and without pain thanks to Hospice. Afterward, he and his sister needed to wrap up her estate with closing out her house, getting those items sold or sorted for family, and selling the house. Most of it went smoothly except selling the house which dragged out until May 2023.

Meanwhile, our one-year lease with a great landlord was about to end. While we were debating on if we should renew, I found a house with .6 of an acre in Illinois. We zoomed off to see it (by zooming I mean a 3 day drive one way), and quickly made an offer.

During the launch of Gray Lady, we bought the house, packed up our belongings (a house with 2 storage units) and moved! We ended up taking four round trips back to Oklahoma (a total of 6 days on the road back and forth for each trip). This filled up my days, leaving little time for writing.

Our first month in our new house was spent sleeping on a mattress on the living room floor. There was a LOT of renovation work to be done! We jumped into it, trying to get the bedrooms and at least one bathroom done so we could be comfortable.

We’ve done renovation work before and this house is mostly updating from the 1970s but I really did not correctly estimate how much time and effort it would take. And living in a house that is under construction is never really very fun unless you are in your 20’s which I am definitely not.

Meanwhile, in May, a month after Gray Lady launched and I was writing on book 5 at the kitchen table, we were hit by another disaster: my husband’s work laid off everyone.

He was off from work for a month which meant we got a lot of house renovation done but we were relying on savings. I worked on his resume and helped him search for jobs. We were really lucky that within a month he had a great offer from a company he really liked and was back to being employed again! Not many are this fortunate.

During the summer I worked on book 5 (now with a final title of Haunted Grave) at the kitchen table. I no longer had a proper office but instead typed away in the middle of contractors going back and forth, and husband installing floors and painting walls.

The story was proving troublesome. Being the penultimate book in the series, instead of being a tale about a ghost adventure, this book starts bringing together the hints and clues scattered throughout the other stories. The murder of Elinor’s father becomes the central focus. So while the book had good scenes I didn’t think it synched together as one whole tale.

As an author, I simply will not put up a book for pre-sale until I KNOW that the first rough draft is in complete from start to finish. I know from experience at this point I can whip the book into good shape and that all will be well. The story can have holes and chapters to write but the book must be plotted out and over half of it written, with me feeling confident I know where it is going.

This was not happening. Hence why Haunted Grave was not listed for pre-sale like I originally planned.

A couple of weeks ago I had a follow up with my doctor and complained to him about hair loss. He told me it was due to stress and that it takes about six months after the traumatic event to see it. UGH. Yes, I am pretty sure the last 18 months have finally caught up with.

But in some ways this information was a relief. Yes the last 18 months had been stressful. I managed as best as I could and still my body said it had had enough! In the long run it was okay for me to personally have taken some time off from writing.

Still, I decided this book MUST BE FINISHED! It was really important to me and I also missed Elinor and Tristan. They deserved their story to be told.

On a long drive back (this was a trip back to Oklahoma to wrap up final things), I had a brainstorming conversation with husband where we discussed the book and I was able to resolve the plot of Haunted Grave!!

Things were moving again. Fired up and with new ideas, I tackled the story and quickly started coming together.

Within three weeks I hit my word count goal and feeling confident the book would be finished, contacted my editor and arranged a developmental edit (October) and a final proof edit (November) with a publication date in December. I know this doesn’t seem “soon” but it really is.

To give you the best quality book possible, it has to jump through several hoops before I feel I can release it and editing does take time. However, rest assured reader it is happening!

The book goes up this week as a pre-release at Amazon. So get ready!

Now I just need my hair to start growing back.

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