M. F. Jones  

Writer, Editor, Animal Advocate

Works in Progress -- Fiction 

Somebody's Darling:  A Novel 

Jessie Gibbs is a young musician living in present-day Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Frustrated by her single state and stalled performing career, she seeks adventure and romance as camp cook for a group of Civil War re-enactors. One moonlit night in the woods near her unit’s encampment, she meets a man whose motley uniform suggests that he’s a fellow “living historian." Lemuel Sanders is handsome and soft-spoken, with a charming, old-fashioned courtesy. He’s clearly attracted to her. There is just one drawback: He’s a ghost.

        Lem tells Jessie that he was killed in the 1862 battle of Stones River and hastily buried with six other soldiers in an unmarked grave. He has a mission: to enlist a living person to find his family in the Smoky Mountains and let them know that he died and where he is buried. He is unaware that 145 years have passed, but learning that doesn’t diminish his resolve to make the gravesite known and obtain a proper burial for himself and the other soldiers interred with him, so that all those families may know peace at last.

        Though terrified at first, Jessie is drawn to help him and they fall in love. She is torn: wanting to find his people so that he can go to his eternal rest, but knowing that by doing so she will lose him forever. However, not finding them will be disastrous, because she fears that Lem will never abandon his quest, and she will never be free of her passion for him to seek a real-world lover.

         Somebody’s Darling is a love story that crosses time periods: present day, and Civil War era – and unites worlds: the ordinary, and the spiritual/supernatural. Although it is the first book of a trilogy that combines Civil War history with contemporary issues and otherworldly themes, it is crafted to be a satisfying stand-alone novel. The other two books in the series, Soldier's Joy and Bright Canaan, are currently in production. Click here to read the opening of Somebody's Darling. 

Invented Lives: A Novel

Invented Lives shows how the intimacy of women’s friendships, often so powerfully sustaining, can turn toxic when the friendship ends.

     Shattered by a failed romance and a lost job, Regina – Reggie -- Stallworth, 27, has come home to western Massachusetts, hoping to rebuild her life. She meets Clarissa Dawson, a thirty-something Englishwoman who works in an animal shelter and helps Reggie find her canine soulmate in the fearful, gentle Rufus. The two women become inseparable friends, bound by their shared love of dogs.

      Clarissa is beautiful and bold, and has great talents for communicating with animals and for creating knitted artworks. But Reggie soon comes to realize that her friend tells lies, inflating her abilities and achievements, her social status. However, Reggie views these fabrications as harmless deceptions meant to bolster a deep insecurity behind Clarissa’s dazzling façade.

      But Reggie has no idea of the shocking secret the other woman is hiding until by chance she stumbles upon it. When she confronts her friend, Clarissa uses their former closeness to strike Reggie where it will hurt most: trying to seduce Aidan, Reggie’s new love, and kidnapping Reggie's beloved dog. 

     The novel treats difficult themes: depression and mental illness, substance abuse, and animal cruelty. The book’s ultimate message, however, is about the restorative power of community and the natural world, and the transformative influence of love – between humans, and between people and the animals they take to their hearts. Click here to read the first chapter.