It has sure been busy as I prep for all of the things going on this October, but today I’m celebrating the release of my first self-published full-length book, The Impostor and Other Dark Tales! This collection has been a labor of love and given me the chance to work with some incredibly talented people. I’ve also been blown away by the reviews and support this book has already gotten, but mostly I’m so thankful to have these tales I’ve loved for so long out in the world in one solid place!
Happy book birthday to my dark, twisted, beautiful short story collection!
Now available in ebook and paperback wherever horror books are sold!
I’m so thrilled to announce the release of the much anticipated anthology, Masks, filled with tales about Mardi Gras and New Orleans. This has been in the making since last year and it’s so rewarding to see the book finally in reader hands!
My short story including in this anthology is titled “La Femme en Rouge” and features a trans woman struggling to find acceptance with her father. It’s a suspense-filled tale that features tarot readings, mysterious encounters, and a washboard band.
There were really several factors of my life that inspired this piece. I have several friends in the LGBT community, and have witnessed first hand the kind of pain and bigotry they face for coming out to family and friends. I admire the bravery these people have in order to be who they know they are. I wanted to explore this with Josie. I wanted the reader to walk beside her and feel her struggles, her confusion, and her fear. I wanted to make this story feel personal.
That’s really a mantra I’ve carried in many of my stories lately. I’ve worked hard to write stories that get under the skin, so to speak. When Filles Vertes Press asked me if I wanted to write about Mardi Gras, I instantly knew I had to say yes because I wanted an excuse to write about New Orleans. That place lingers with you long after you’ve left it.
Back in 2000, I joined a bunch of internet friends I had never met or even seen in person and traveled to New Orleans with them around Halloween. I was a senior in High School at the time and was on the verge of burning out from stress. This was a cathartic time for me. We went ghost hunting, we dressed up like vampires, we experienced Bourbon Street. I wasn’t nearly as confident in myself as I am now, and that time seems almost surreal.
One of my friends was the only one of us who could speak fluent Creole and she was our negotiator and our representative as we navigated the enormous city. At one point we had to switch hotels because the first one we went to was so haunted that all of us had nightmares and couldn’t bring ourselves to stay. Our Creole speaking friend was the only one who could negotiate with the manager to get us moved. She was tough, quiet, and had the best acidic comebacks of the group.
As I began writing books and short stories, she remained my champion over the years. She always encouraged me to continue and demanded to get to beta read my first horror book when I got it put together. She loved reading horror, and she had the kind of personality that she would be honest with me if there were problems. I worked hard on my writing, preparing to send her my first horror book that she was excited to read.
A few years back, I learned that she had died of an illness she had fought for years without telling hardly any of us. That was the kind of person she was. She didn’t like to let on that she was struggling, and she didn’t want people to worry over her. That was her choice.
When this anthology offer came up, I leapt at it because I knew she would have loved it. She loved New Orleans. She posted about it constantly, knowing the streets better than she knew her own hometown. She never got the chance to live there, but she visited every chance she could.
This story is dedicated to her, because she knew the potential I had and she always encouraged me even when she probably feared for herself. Her love of New Orleans is weaved into the story of “La Femme en Rouge”, and I like to think she would have appreciated my attention to detail. She would have flipped at being able to read an entire anthology about Mardi Gras.
For some, Mardi Gras is a celebration For others, it’s a dangerous game
I visited New Orleans once in 2000 with several online friends. I was a senior in high school at the time and it was stressful meeting people who I had never really seen in real life. This was the age of anonymity on the internet, and all I had was a picture of them.
This was before 9/11 happened, so the flight over was completely different than it is today. It was also before Katrina hit and I remember us driving over bridges and seeing all the buildings underneath, all the homes that in a few years would be seen on TV underwater.
For me, it was a special moment, a way of letting go of the stress of my academics and visiting someplace new. At the time, I was stressed out from applying to colleges and I didn’t know where I would be the following year. It was a period of transition and a period of reflection.
When I was asked by the wonderful editors of Filles Vertes Publishing if I wanted to participate in an anthology about New Orleans, I jumped at the opportunity. You see one of those online friends of mine passed away a year ago, and she was absolutely in love with the place. She was also a big supporter of my work. I wanted to honor her with a story about the city she always wanted to move to.
I am thrilled to share the cover reveal for Masks an anthology about Mardi Gras and the themes that surround it. My story, “La Femme en Rouge”, is a tale of transformation and of reflection. I associate New Orleans with a place to help me make big decisions in life, and I think my story reflects that. I wanted to capture the lights, the smells, the sounds, the moods, the mixture of perspectives, and the economic struggles.
I hope you’ll dare to explore the fantastic tales within, and maybe you’ll also find yourself transformed. After all, Mardi Gras is all about shedding your skin. Coming 3/31/2020.
I really didn’t expect to be sharing a new publication so soon after having two horror shorts published, but here we go!
I just sent off the contract to Heroic Fantasy Quarterly. They’re going to be publishing my fantasy short story, “Curse of Beauty”, in the next issue on their website! It should be going up around May 1st, to be included in Issue #28, so in just a couple of weeks. Note that this will be a free read, so anybody can drop by and read it once it’s live. 😉
This story has had a long road to get to this point. I’ve been trying to find a home for it since 2011 and have had over 20 rejections on it. Sometimes I wondered if it was worth shopping around, but this is a business where it’s good to be persistent. Like I’ve said before, my writing can be difficult to pin down, which means finding the right niche for it is difficult.
I’ve actually had a couple of older, hard-to-place pieces picked up lately. “A Slippery Customer” was another one. That one too had been homeless since 2011 and had 16 rejections, and the anthology crawled all the way up to #3 in Amazon’s horror anthology listing.
I guess the lesson of this story is not to give up. Take a fresh read of your story now and then, because you do get better as a writer over time, but don’t let yourself get discouraged. Keep sending them out. Eventually you’ll find the awesome editor for your piece. The numbers I’ve listed here are pretty typical in placing your writing. These are just short stories I’m talking about too, not even novels. I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of submitting longer pieces to publishers. (I think I’m still scorched from Hodderscape’s open window from last August.)
Anyway come May 1st I’ll be sending out all the links I can, and hopefully you’ll understand why I’m so proud of this baby. I hope you’ll read and share as well!
I’m still reeling over how well Creepy Campfire did for days, but now it’s time to ramp up for the next horror story to crawl (scurry? creep? fly?) out of the woodwork.
Pete Kahle, the awesome editor of this series, released this trippy, disturbing cover for Not Your Average Monster #2!
Isn’t it great? The longer I look at it, the more creepy monsters I see in the background. It really reminds me of The Mist, one of my all-time favorite Stephen King stories, and that makes me so damn happy!
Pre-orders should be up in the next couple of days, and I’ll be sure to post links so be sure to check back. In the meantime if you’re interested in getting your hands on a review copy, head over to the Bloodshot Books Facebook page and let him know.