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!

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

Book Releases and a Cover Reveal, Oh My!

The year has barely just begun and already things are moving quick. March and April are going to be particularly busy times around here, so I’ve created a run-down of everything happening in about a two week time-span.

  • Friday, March 27 – The cover reveal for The Seeking!
  • Tuesday, March 31 – Release day for the Masks anthology!
  • Tuesday, April 7 – Release day for Broken!

See what I mean? It’s going to be back-to-back book releases and a cover reveal! I’m really looking forward to seeing the cover for The Seeking too because that book is going to be SUPER creepy.

Help with the Cover Reveal!

If you run a blog or a website and want to help me with the cover reveal for The Seeking, and to help with releases and cover reveals for other books from The Parliament House too, feel free to reach out on the Contact Me page! I know the secret handshake to get you in the door. 😉

Want to see what to expect within the pages? Check out the Pinterest board!

Screenshot of The Seeking board on Pinterest
Yes, there are monsters!

It’s all set around Halloween, so it’s the perfect read for Fall. I’m super excited for that book to hit shelves! (Have you added it to your Goodreads yet?)

Then Book 2 of the Stolen series, Broken, is coming out in April. And to top it all off, I’m going to be out of town that day so it’ll be extra exciting (and stressful) than normal.

Sometimes I think about where I was just a few years back. I remember working hard on my books and on my writing, hoping to someday publish my stories but never really thinking I would. Sometimes I have to stop and realize where I am and how I got here and take a breath.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed sometimes. It’s easy to worry that I’ve forgotten something or to fret that my writing isn’t good enough. Then I think back on myself from but a few years back and how pumped I would be to have these challenges then. I have to remind myself that it’s okay to feel this way, but that this is where I want and need to be right now.

The best way to remind myself that all this work is worth it? Reading amazing reviews. Hearing from people who loved Stolen. Knowing that there are many people itching to read the continuation. Reminding myself that someone out there needs to read my books, and that the only way to reach them is to keep on pushing.

That’s ambrosia for the soul right there, folks. I’m going to go roll up my sleeves and get back to pushing.

A Tribute to Middle Earth

Today I learned that Christopher Tolkien died.

He was the son of the renowned author J.R.R. Tolkien who many consider the father of modern fantasy. It’s strange because I feel like the world that both father and son built is such an epic legacy, both on the pages and outside of it, that his death feels like the end of an era.

So I thought it would be fitting to talk a little bit about one of my favorite places, and I think one of theirs: Middle Earth.

Map of Middle Earth

I think my first introduction to the world was when I watched Rankin and Bass’ The Hobbit when I was very young. I loved the animation style, the warmth of the characters, and I adored the songs. It’s still a film that I can go back and watch again and again. Of course I had to hunt down the book too and I read that front to back, loving Mirkwood, Thranduil, and Smaug the most.

Fast forward to high school in 9th grade where we were assigned The Hobbit to read for class. I was thrilled! Not only did we cover the book but we also touched on The Lord of the Rings series. It sounded fun, but it didn’t have a dragon in it, and that made me less likely to try it. I was really into dragons as a kid. And every time I tried to read it, the bickering of the hobbits in Hobbiton and the general air of elitism made me reluctant to continue. I knew the series was supposed to be good, but was it worth it?

It wasn’t until I sat down and watched the teaser trailer for The Fellowship of the Ring that I was hooked.

The original 2001 teaser trailer for The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

It had adventure, fantasy, romance, and incredible monsters too. I remember the whole theater going silent when it came on. Then they announced in the teaser when each of the films would be releasing – unheard of then, and still is now.

As a freshman college student, I was hooked. I ended up reading The Fellowship of the Ring after being blown away by the movie, and read The Two Towers and Return of the King before each of their films came out. This became my favorite fandom for the better part of a decade, and my house is still filled with statues and memorabilia from the series.

Life size cardboard cutout of Legolas from The Lord of the Rings.
Although this isn’t my photo, I do have this cardboard cut-out of Legolas staring over me in the study as I type this.

At bookstores, whole bookcases were dedicated to different collections of the trilogy, movie books, symbolism from the film, toys, etc. I remember seeing books by Christopher Tolkien mixed in too, and naively dismissed the books as him trying to capitalize on his father’s works. What I didn’t know was that he had taken all of the careful research and notes that his father had made and continued the stories where his father could not. I didn’t realize that he strove to match his father’s style in each additional release, and that these books were written specifically for the fans to help get his father’s work out there for them. The series and the fandom originally came out in 1954-1955, and I was a newcomer who didn’t have all the information. Of course, there were no cell phones back then or even reliable internet. Information like that was buried deep in forums or probably in one of the many magazines that featured the series.

J.R.R. Tolkien sparked a love of fantasy in me that today I try to share with others through my books. His son tried to honor his father’s legacy and continue the world as best he could. He protected the integrity of Middle Earth and the Tolkien Estate that he managed was known for having high standards for any adaptations of the books. In fact, it was well known that after The Hobbit trilogy, they famously determined that no more film adaptations were to be made. Now a brand new series is set to film soon for Amazon.

I just wanted to take a moment to thank both father and son for helping to keep this beautiful tapestry of a world alive, and for sharing it with the rest of us. Middle Earth will always be an inspiration to many, and will have a special place in my heart.

Cover Reveal for Masks!

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.