An Early Peek at La Femme en Rouge

Welcome to this leg of the Filles Vertes Publishing MASKS blog hop!

If you somehow landed on this page and haven’t heard about the blog hop, click here!

If you haven’t already, add MASKS to your Goodreads TBR

Also, pre-orders are available at FVPub.com, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, or your fave bookseller. Convenient links are listed below:

Enjoy this entertaining glimpse of one of the intriguing stories awaiting you in MASKS. Remember to look for the keyword/phrase and take a note of it!

Happy Hopping!

We are only a little over a month away from the release of Masks, an anthology featuring a slice of the darker side of Mardi Gras. Judging from the list of authors alone, I can already tell it’s going to be an incredible read!

My short story, “La Femme en Rouge”, or French for The Woman in Red, will be part of this piece. It follows a trans woman named Josie who struggles to embrace herself despite an abusive home life. When she encounters a strange woman in red one night, she’s drawn into a mystery and a discover she never expected. As Mardi Gras looms ever closer, Josie finds more questions rather than answers.

<keyword: Masks>

See below for a sneak peek at “La Femme en Rouge” coming March 31st in Masks from Filles Vertes Publishing!

Frosted pink lipstick, sweet summer sunset eyeshadow, and blushing rose rouge: my hands trembled so bad that the eyeliner went on crooked.

“Shit,” I muttered under my breath, arching my face up to the light and dabbing at my eye with my pinky finger, trying to smooth out the line, trying to make it perfect. The false lashes were next, and I swallowed down the dryness in my throat. The lash glue squeezed out slow and smooth, a white strip on the back of the lash. Then the door to the bathroom opened with a loud clacking of heels and I nearly dropped the lash onto the grimy floor.

I turned to look, blowing lightly on the lash, waiting for the white to go clear. A woman with dark hair and spray-tanned skin slipped into one of the stalls. Hopefully she didn’t notice me. No questions, no comments, no wondering why I had a whole makeup bag dumped out on the countertop. I leaned forward over the sink and tried to place the lash on my eyelid, shaking so badly I was afraid I was going to poke myself in the eye.

The toilet flushed and I froze, breathing so close to the mirror that it fogged up. I tried to avoid her gaze as she walked up beside me to wash her hands.

Sidelong glances. Unreadable features. I tried to focus on the lash instead.

“La Femme en Rouge” by Marlena Frank

Next up!

M. Dalto talks about her story, “Epiphany”!

Go check out Blog Stop #4!

How Long Did It Take?

Image of cactus and typewriter from Florencia Viadana on Unsplash

“How long did it take you to write that book?”

This is something I hear from people often. They ask how long a book took to write, and regardless of what you tell them, there’s usually a nod and an unspoken understanding. What they take away from the answer depends on what they’re really asking. Sometimes they ask out of curiosity, but sometimes it’s because they’re trying to decide if their work is worth trying to complete. Sometimes they’re judging themselves for writing too quickly or too slowly for what they see as a standard speed.

Let me just take a moment to say: it doesn’t matter.

The speed of your first draft does not determine how good it is or whether it’s worth publishing. You can take thirty days or thirty years to write it, and it will still need to be edited, proofread, and formatted. It will still need to be shopped around to publishers, reviewed, and marketed.

One of the things I love as a reader and as an author is that every book has its own story from inception to landing in your hands. Sometimes its been written in fits and starts over decades. Sometimes it was trunked, or buried away somewhere and abandoned, before being dusted off and given new life. Sometimes it’s written in a month and given a few months of editing before being published. All of these methods are completely valid and absolutely normal. There is no right speed for crafting a book.

Do you know what every book has in common? It was finished.

Now, I don’t mean it’s perfect because there is no perfect book, but it is pushed as close as it can be before being allowed to fly on its own. Art is all about striving for that impossibility, for making the story match the pictures you have in your head, but it will never completely match up, and that’s okay. As long as you can create a similar story in the heads of your readers, that’s the real win.

So to all those people working on a book slowly over time, or to those hopping from one partially finished manuscript to the next, remember that finishing it is the only real requirement. Even thirty minutes a day, or even a week, is all it takes.

You can finish it, I promise.

Review: Veiled by Desire

Finished: 1/16/2020

Tavarra is a beautiful sea dweller cursed for life, forced to be a beast when the moon is bright. Rhona is a girl with the ability to control water, and her friend, Perin, is a warrior who bears a dark secret. Quil is boy with an easy laugh and a penchant for music. Finally Eza rounds out the main cast of characters as a bat-like creature with a sharp wit and a bit heart.

Together they must seek out the dark pyramid to rescue their village and find the mercurial Stone of Desire who may or may not grant a wish. This tale is filled with action, love, heartache, and mystery with a flair for the surreal and fantastic that I’ve come to love in Robinson’s work. The characters in this story are so lovable and flawed that I couldn’t help but fall in love with them.

But first, I have a confession to make.

I have a weak spot for werewolves. They show up a LOT in my books, even when I try not to let them appear. Tavarra is one of the most original werewolves I’ve read about. Her desire to go on land and leave behind the sea, staying out too long and bearing a horrible curse, and forced to roam the land with only her friend, Eza, at her side. Even her description with her bright orange hair and orange fur down her arms makes her unique.

The magic in this story is really fascinating too, mixing science with the fantastic in a way that had me very intrigued. I loved the dark forest, and how even when everything seemed safe, nothing really was.

I really loved this one because it felt so horrific, and it was refreshing to be in a completely fantastic world. Robinson knows how to keep you reading too, and at the end I had trouble putting it down! I honestly can’t wait to read Book 3 in her Laith series!

My Overall Rating: 5/5

Writing a Trilogy: The Lessons I Have Learned [#AuthorToolboxBlogHop]

It’s a new year, a new decade, and here I am starting on book three of my Stolen trilogy, the first series of books I’ve written. As I ease back into the world and the characters that give this series so much life, I realize how very different it has been for me to write each book. I thought it might be helpful to share what I’ve learned in this month’s Author Toolbox Blog Hop.

AuthorToolboxBlogHop Title Image

This hop is made up of a bunch of authors all sharing advice and experiences to help out other authors. I’m always thrilled to be part of this, and I hope you’ll take the time to go check out some of the other author blogs!

Cover for Stolen, Book 1 of the Stolen series
Stolen, Book 1 of the Stolen series

Book one (Stolen – now available) had its own challenges, as I explained way back in 2013 when I struggled with drafting it. It sometimes baffles me when I look back on that post at how much I’ve learned since then, and how much more refined my writing has become. Somehow it was easy for me then to talk about how books ought to end, how stories ought to progress, and how characters ought to evolve. It’s really different when the blank page is staring at you and you realize that you’re the only one who can create those things and finish the story. When the stakes are higher you suddenly understand why writing series is so difficult.

Cover for Broken, Book 2 of the Stolen series
Broken, Book 2 of the Stolen series

Book two (Broken – coming April 7th) had its own set of problems. I thought I had handled all the loose ends in book one quite well. I thought the sequel would just continue the story, but then details came up during writing like they do, and I couldn’t remember a character’s eye color or the color of their hair. Where was that scar again? What was that background? I have the utmost respect for people who have written ten and twenty books in a series because I think I might need to write a reference book just for myself to keep track of all the details. Needless to say, it was a learning experience–though the end product was so very worth it.

Now here I am, finally on book three (Chosen – coming soon), and I have once again a whole new challenge. All those parts and pieces I dripped in those early books now have their calling. All those last minute scenes I want to include need to be written. And this is the last call for character development. It’s honestly daunting but also thrilling at the same time. As a pantser, I too want to see how these characters get to where I want them to be. I’m looking forward to wrapping up this series and preparing for new projects, but I’m also worried about the finality of this tale coming to a close. Of course I can write spin-offs and extended universes, but this will be the end of the main story for these characters that I’ve molded and directed for eight years. I want to do the right thing for them.

This will certainly not be the last series I write, I’ve already started gathering inspiration for the next one, but I’ve learned a lot during this time and wanted to share some of my takeaways with other authors who are starting their first series. Hopefully my experiences help you!

Lessons Learned from Writing 2/3 Books in my Trilogy

  • Use a comprehensive writing system like Scrivener if you can, or make really organized folders.
    • I know, I talk about Scrivener a lot, but being able to keep all of my writing in a single file has been so helpful to keep things straight.
  • Take the time to make those character sheets.
    • You’ll miss them so much if you forget to make one for your background character in book 2. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything…
  • Know generally where each book should start and end.
    • I know, it’s hard to do for us pantsers, but having a general cut-off point will help in pacing. Especially for the middle child if you’re writing a trilogy.
  • When in doubt, make a map.
    • I’ve made maps for the inside of buildings so I can make sure I can describe it properly. Just draw it out and take a picture of it to put it into your writing system so you can reference it later.
  • If possible, take breaks in between books.
    • I know for a fact this just isn’t possible for so many authors. Taking time off from a project or a world or series means it’ll take longer to get back into it again. However getting away from the world (if you can) will help enrich it. Remember to replenish that creative well!

Experimentation is of course the best teacher with these things. I’ll have to report back in a few years on whether it got easier with the next series. I would love to write very long series, but I can’t quite do it yet. I think I need to “level up” my author skills a bit more first.

I’ll probably come back and add onto this list at some point. I’m sure I’m missing some things, but I hope this helps. There’s a seemingly endless supply of advice on how to write books out there, but not so much is focused specifically on series. Hopefully this helps bridge that gap.

Have you considered writing a series? Why or why not? Any advice for those who have completed one?

Happy writing, everyone!

Review: Morsus

You all probably know how much I love Peter Salomon’s books by now. I mean I’m happily moving through every book that he’s published, and I don’t have a single problem with this. If you want to check out other books of his that I’ve reviewed, take a look at:

Finished: 11/24/2019

Let me start off by saying it is a crime that there are not more reviews of this book on Goodreads. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who has posted a review thus far and it deserves so many more!

The Morsus hide from the notice of humans. Some like the LaMontaine family hide in plain sight as part of the Louisiana police. Others like the Cromwells live in an expensive exclusive military compound completely insulated from human society. Morsus themselves feed off human adrenaline with their long, black claws. Their feeding can be addictive to adrenaline junkies, and deadly if they take too much. Morsus are also going extinct.

Lily Cromwell, the daughter of the ruthless Baron, lives with the expectation that as the youngest female Morsus, she must one day bear an heir. Her father forces her to train regularly and works with researchers to farm her eggs for experimental study.

Bayard (Bay) LaMontaine is a teenager having a hard time dealing with his new curse. His transformation is different from his parents’ and he soon runs into trouble at school.

Once the Baron discovers that Bay exists, he’s determined to have him wed to his daughter to continue the Morsus lineage. Only Lily will do anything to gain freedom from the demands of her father, and Bay quickly learns he’s not like other Morsus at all.

The world of the Baron and Lily’s rebelliousness gave me big Underworld vibes. Something about the Baron having a whole dedicated militia under his control just felt so similar to that world. This book started slow for me, but once Lily and Bay met, the action picked up quickly! About halfway through I had a hard time putting the book down cause I wanted to know what happened next! (Not at all unusual for one of Salomon’s books, I might add!)

I was so relieved to see this is book one of a series cause I still have so much I want to know! This was a very good book, and I think fans of the Underworld series would really love the style. As I said the first part is a bit slow to me, but I’ve read Salomon’s work before, so I knew my patience would be worthwhile.

Definitely a must read for a new breed of disturbing monsters. I can’t wait to read book two!

My Overall Rating: 5/5