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.
Amid all the chaos and confusion going on in the world right now, I come bearing some good news!
Today is the cover reveal for The Seeking, my young adult horror book featuring weird monsters, vicious rituals, creepy villagers, and a gruesome secret. This book comes out on October 27th, just in time for Halloween, from The Parliament House.
I’m thrilled because this is my first full-length horror novel, and although this is a standalone book, I hope to write more horror novels in this vein. Think of this as A Quiet Place mixed with Hunger Games.
I’m so pleased with how this cover came out and it has just the right amount of terror, empathy, and creepy that I love! Check out the synopsis listed below and make sure you add it to your TBR list on Goodreads!
Each Seeking, the magic that protects the town of Carra must be renewed, which means the children of the Exalted Family must go into hiding. Whether it be through disguise or bribe, through trusted friends or perfect hiding places, every child of the Priest family must avoid capture for the full day.
When things go wrong with the renewal, it’s up to seventeen-year-old Dahlia, the middle child of the Priest family, and her girlfriend, Bisa, to escape Carra and find the magical beings responsible for the protection. They must learn who would require such a cruel game to be played every year and if the protection of the Gray People is really worth such a deadly cost. What they will discover is far worse.
Do you love this cover as much as I do? Please consider sharing this to any friends who love horror books! As an indie author, we rely so much on word of mouth to get our stories heard. Any help you can give is always appreciated. Thank you!
When I released my debut full-length novel, Stolen, last year, I was daunted by the amount of work that had to be done prior to release day. There were eARCs to send out, book reviewers to reach out to, blog tours to organize, and in person signing events to schedule. I only had some idea of the workload it would take, and it was only when the wave passed by that I realized how much work it was and how well I handled it. I also realized how to do it better next time.
Now I’m prepping for the sequel for that book, Broken, to be released on April 7th. This book release is very different from my experience with Stolen, and I wanted to share what I think has improved this time around compared to last time.
Book signings are easier to book. Last year I went to a number of small and indie bookstores to do signings. It was an eye-opening experience. I had to find places that would take an indie author and a small publishing company. Not all bookstores do, and I was shocked to discover that. This time around, I already have locations that I’ve made connections with. Some of them, like Story on the Square and The Southern Pen, stock copies of my books already and are preparing to stock Broken as well. This takes a huge weight off my shoulders this time around.
Have readers to reach out to. If you’ve ever started going down the rabbit hole of trying to find ARC book reviewers, you know how helpful this is. Most times when I reach out cold to a blog site, I get crickets. And there are a ton of potential book bloggers. It’s just a lot of time spent with sometimes very little reward. This time around I have a group of ARC readers and reviewers to reach out to, people who loved my first book and are excited to read the second book. Not having to spend time organizing all this also takes a huge weight off of me.
I have local fans. I’ve been to enough local shows and events now that I have people who work hard to come out to my book signings and readings. It’s so flattering, but it also means there’s the pressure to create regularly and to constantly improve my craft. I enjoy this, so I don’t mind. It also means that I don’t setup a signing and don’t have anyone appear any longer. I usually at least have one person show up.
These are just a few of the areas that I think are easier this time around, but each one makes a big difference. Instead of gaining all of these contacts and experience, I can focus on new projects and organizing all of these events instead of trying to find them.
For those looking to publish multiple books, I hope this eases that feeling of being overwhelmed when faced with what to do on your first book publication. It will get easier as you go, even though it doesn’t seem like it will at first. The goal is to improve as you go, learn the ropes, make mistakes, and get better with each release.
I’ve been writing professionally for ten years now. It’s crazy to think that.
I’ve seen so many small presses come and go. I’ve encountered incredible editors (and frightful ones), I’ve seen glowing rejection letters (and decimating ones), and I’ve slowly learned the ropes. It’s taken a lot of time and a lot of dedication. It requires becoming an expert or at least gaining competency in a variety of areas.
Here are just a few that I came up with off the top of my head. These are all skillsets I didn’t really have ten years ago, but now definitely do.
Social media representative
Book tour planner
And so many more…
About three years back, as my sister and I started to break down the parts and pieces of turning this work into a small business, it quickly became a no-brainer. The amount of time/money/effort that goes into being an author easily makes up a small business. It takes up my evenings, my weekends, my family time, and especially time with my friends. (Love y’all!)
The truth is: I create because I love doing this, not because it pays. (Maybe some day.)
I thought it would be a good idea to give you all, my readers and fans, the opportunity to buy me a coffee (or tea in my case). Imagine sitting down beside me at a local Starbucks and just sliding the cup over while I’m deep in a scene. Know that it’ll help fuel a good afternoon of content creation, whether that’s thinking up some horrific scenes or writing some dialogue that pulls at the heartstrings — or it might help me celebrate my birthday today. 🙂
It’s small, but it helps. It adds up. Thank you for supporting me!