Review: Lullaby of Flames

Finished 4/9/2020

I went in completely blind on this short story, which is how I prefer to experience a story to be honest, so I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t expect our teenage lead, Cori, to fall down a pit into Hell.

This story took a number of unexpected twists and turns, and had a number of characters I really enjoyed, such as Rigel and Lilith. Cori was great from beginning to end though despite her big mistake, and speaking of, wow this ending!

Candace Robinson’s stories are always so creative and this was no exception. I seriously don’t know how she dreams up these stories, but I’m here for them!

This is a great read for fans of the 80s films of Legend or Labyrinth! Especially if you enjoy being taken by surprise.

My Rating: 5/5 stars… that ending!

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!

Short Story Series 3: Finding Publishers [#AuthorToolboxBlogHop]

As part of the Author Toolbox Blog Hop this month, I’m picking up on my Short Story series. It fizzled out a while back, but it’s something I’ve wanted to get back to but just hadn’t found the time. Well this Blog Hop was the perfect excuse! Check out all the posts in this month’s hop!

This is Part 3 of a series on publishing Short Stories. If you find these helpful, please leave a comment or share with your friends!

So you’ve written your short story, had someone else look at it, and gotten it as good as you can make it. The next step is finding a publisher for it! There are plenty of free blog posts that authors work to keep up to date for interested authors, but there are some sites that work to compile these publishers. And a few that publishers seek out to ensure they’re listed as a potential option. Some of these require a monthly payment and others don’t. Some are for particular genres and others are for all types of writing. I’ve tried to keep this list short and to only mention ones that I’ve personally used.

  • Duotrope ($5/month or $50/year)
    • https://duotrope.com/
    • Years ago Duotrope was a free site. It was run by volunteers and it ran an annual donation drive. However over the years the donations just didn’t meet up with the server/data demands. So back in 2012 they went to pay.

      I would argue they’re one of the best places to find publishers and to get ideas for writing prompts for short stories. Check out their calendar of theme deadlines for plenty of ideas. They let you keep track of your acceptances & rejections for years and if you have to skip a few months and come back due to your budget, your data will still be waiting for you. I highly recommend them.
  • The Grinder (Free)
    • https://thegrinder.diabolicalplots.com
    • One of the very first submission tracker available for free for authors was The Grinder. You can dig all sorts of information out of their site. Going to the homepage you can see all the recent rejections and acceptances that have been reported to the system. While I don’t think it’s as fully featured as Duotrope is, I find that it’s frequently recommended when the budget isn’t available for Duotrope’s fancier user interface and designs. It’s also not as personalized, but the information is up to date and you may find publishers here that aren’t in Duotrope and vica versa.
    • The Grinder runs on donations through the Paypal Donate button on their page. If you rely on their services please consider donating either monthly or annually to them through their site.
      https://thegrinder.diabolicalplots.com/Home/Donate
  • The Horror Tree (Free – Horror/Dark Fantasy)
    • https://horrortree.com/
    • I’ve found a lot of unique calls for submissions and opportunities over at The Horror Tree. I can’t really say when they started out, but they’re fairly new, and their dedication to finding all sorts of horror and dark themed calls for submission are impressive. They also post occasional original shorts and do author interviews as well. (I did an interview with them last year, and will probably reach out to them again when The Seeking comes out!)
    • The Horror Tree runs on donations through their Patreon site. If you use this service, please consider becoming one of their Patrons!
      The Horror Tree Patreon
  • Facebook Groups for Writing Associations
    • Look for Facebook writing groups that will post up opportunities on a regular basis. For example, the Horror Writers Association Atlanta Chapter has a public group open to anyone with an interest in what’s going on with the Atlanta Chapter. Announcements happen there and so do discussions. Sometimes opportunities are posted too.
    • The Horror Writers Association also has a public group and it is super active. Sometimes opportunities get posted too.
  • Facebook Groups
    • There are a TON of Facebook groups available for finding publishers. I honestly can’t list them all, but a few searches will bring up several options. From fantasy to science fiction to horror, there are all sorts of areas where publishers get listed. Make friends with authors in real life, befriend them on Facebook, find out what groups they’re in, and check them out yourself. Not all groups are equal and not all publishers are the same.

With that said, regardless of what publishers you find, before you send off your precious story, make sure you vet them to ensure they aren’t trying to scam authors. Duotrope screens their publishers, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do the same. Look for warning signs:

  • Never pay to have your story published.
  • Never pay for editing services.
  • Never pay for publication services.
  • The money should always flow toward the author.
  • Look at other books they’ve had come out. How do their ratings look? How are their sales? Are there complaints about editing or quality?
  • Check out authors from their existing groups. Find their websites and see what kind of feedback you can find. Don’t be afraid to reach out, but don’t be surprised if you don’t hear back right away.
  • See if they’re listed on the Writer Beware website. These folks investigate claims of scamming and keep an active list of publishers and agents doing shady things.
  • Writer Beware has an excellent write-up of what to look for when evaluating a small press. Please don’t let this list intimidate you, but it’s good to do your research so you’re aware of what to look for in publishers, contracts, and how to speak up and negotiate for yourself. Usually short story contracts are pretty cut and dry and you don’t usually negotiate with those, but get used to evaluating them and reviewing them because you might one day want to read over one for a novel or collection of your short stories.

To find more useful tools, check out my page on Writing Resources. And make sure you check out the other posts this month on the Author Toolbox Blog Hop!

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.

A Holiday Surprise!

Over the weekend, I was amazed and humbled to reach 1,000 followers on Instagram! I was so thrilled and instantly I knew I wanted to find a way to give back to my readers. Then I remembered this fun, quirky tale.

This story was originally published by Zharmae Publishing Press back in 2013. I go into more details about what happened on my Facebook Moonlight Wanderers group and on my mailing list, but basically the rights all reverted back to me in 2016. Since then, this story has been functionally out of print, and I thought it would be wonderful to make it available once again!

I’m happy to announce that The Mysterious Disappearance of Charlene Kerringer is now available to pre-order as a standalone ebook on Amazon! The story officially releases on Friday, November 29th and if you love film noir and fantasy creatures, I think you’ll enjoy this one!

Some dames are nothing but trouble.

Detective Harris is a private detective who is out of luck and out of cash. When a woman walks into his office in tears, he decides to take a gamble on what he assumes is an open and shut case. What he doesn’t realize is that nothing about this case is normal.

This short story was a semi-finalist in The Zharmae Publishing Press’ Spring 2012 Writer’s Competition.