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Serial Novellas

I’ve always been fascinated by serial storytelling, in whatever medium. Whether television dramas like Lost and Fringe, or comics, or podcasts like Serial and The Black Tapes, stories that build over time and refer back to past developments feel deeper, more real, more engrossing. Nor is this format a new trend. Some of the great novels of history — the works of Dostoevsky and Dickens, for example — were first published chapter by chapter in magazines or newspapers long before their collection in the form of books.

I started to write serial novellas because I felt the basic idea I had for a story, one I’d been carrying around in my head for about ten years, was a good one but not substantial enough to warrant a full novel. I hadn’t even mapped out the plot yet, which I nearly always do. The serial format seemed the perfect solution: a way to get the story out of my head and into the world, but in a way that allowed me to develop it gradually and let it unfold in the way it wanted to. Since then, I’ve loved writing and releasing stories in this way, and the unique challenges, advantages, and limitations it presents.

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13 chapters
~28,000 words

My first serial novella, released one chapter at a time in the year 2014 on a weekly basis. Rumor follows Jay, a young drifter fleeing his past. After falling asleep at the wheel and wrecking his car, Jay is stranded in a nameless small town in the South Carolina lowcountry, until he can make enough money for repairs. There he meets Rumor, a secretive young woman, and pisses off a petty, vengeful police officer whose enmity has grave consequences for Jay and Rumor alike.

I. Drifting on Sixty-one
II. Ed Clinkscales Has a Headache
III. Rumor Whispers
IV. A Different Ira Glass
V. Rain on River Road
VI. Mosquito
VII. Home, In This World
VIII. Idle Speed, No Wake
IX. The Land Tax
X. Jay Dreams of Foxes
XI. The Fire in Glass’ Eyes
XII. Of Ash and Charred Brick
Epilogue: The Buick Again (Under a Christmas Moon)

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Southern Dust

12 chapters
~24,000 words

Brought together by a fateful meeting in a Lowcountry tidal creek, Devin Smoak, a photographer, and Lamar Rivers, a painter, each witness a sinister entity at the water’s edge, filled with malice and resentment—and only escape due to the other’s presence. Bound by the shared experience, the two young artists seek for answers, a search that both brings them closer to each other and widens a rift between them, as each responds to their trauma in different ways.

I. A Salt-Edged Blade
II. Not a Ghost, But an Echo
III. Shadow Box
IV. Haint Blue
V. Maybank
VI. Seafoam
VII. The Rescue Dog
VIII. Rivers Meet
IX. A Scent from Beyond the World
X. Lamar Alone
XI. Epithalamion
Epilogue: The Patients of a Saint

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Carolina Bay

12 chapters
~ 22,000 words

The story of Lamar Rivers’ father, Erlon, who, after coasting through life the past thirty years, comes to believe that a fragment of his soul has gone missing, and that he must seek it in the overgrown wilds of the Lowcountry. Somehow, all of this is connected to his long-dead sister, the cook at Ed’s Diner, a riddle about burning water, and a mysterious circular lake that speaks to Erlon in his dreams.

I. A Missing Pixel
II. Three Trees
III. The Resignation
IV. Circle Unbroken
V. The Glare
VI. Maps
VII. Keturah
VIII. The Geologist
IX. The Place Where Water Burns
X. An Aspect of Lilies
XI. The Acorn
Epilogue: Shem (The Diner Again)