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!

Being an Author in Quarantine [#AuthorToolboxBlogHop]

Lately it’s been difficult for me to focus on writing sometimes. I had my short story, “La Femme en Rouge” released in Masks on March 31st, and my novel, Broken, was released on April 7th. My mind has felt like it’s been in a million places lately trying to keep up with all of my deadlines, needs, and coping with the “current situation”, as it’s been politely referred to in work meetings I’ve attended.

I recently read Morbid Smile’s article on Bujo and the Art of Staying Sane Through Quarantine, and I thought about how much having a bullet journal has helped me during this perilous and unprecedented time. I wanted to share a few other things that have helped me since I know other authors are struggling with this right now.

This post is part of the Author Toolbox Blog Hop, a monthly hop hosted by authors with helpful information for authors. This can be anything from writing advice to publishing recommendations or even to hosting author booths at conventions. Take a look at some of my previous posts, and make sure you also check out the other author posts this month! I’m always amazed at the breadth of knowledge and the amount of tools and information I didn’t know before.

BuJo

Morbid Smile was absolutely right on the benefit of keeping a bullet journal. Usually I would only lists tasks that I’m trying to get done, like work on edits that have a deadline or writing a blog post, but lately I’ve been adding items to that list like working remotely for my day job, or doing the dishes, or cooking. Even if I don’t get as much done in my writing world as I want, I still feel accomplished because I have done things that need to be done.

Although my event schedule for the year has now been mostly scrapped, I also have trackers for books I’ve read, movies I’ve watched, and words I’ve written. Sure, I won’t get to be a vendor at a number of conventions I was hoping for this year, but I can see what new movies I’ve watched.

Virtual Author Events

You’re not the only author who is dealing with isolation right now, and therefore there is a ton of free material out there to help authors. From free writer conventions you can attend–Smashwords is holding a free Author Day as a virtual convention, for example.

Also this month Camp NaNoWriMo has started up! This is a wonderful way to get thrown into a cabin with other authors and you can all help encourage each other to reach your goals. Also you can set your own wordcount goals, so if you’re aiming for 50k or just 10k, this is a great way to motivate yourself.

I’ve seen authors streaming their word sprints live on places like Youtube, so you can participate along with other people and feel like you’re at your local cafe. I’ve seen authors reading from their own work to help provide options for all the parents teaching from home. The possibilities are really only limited to your imagination and creativity. We’re authors–we can do that.

Reading

Speaking of books, I’ve gotten so much reading done while I’ve been isolated. We just hit day 30 here in our household, and I find myself binge reading more than I used to. I simply have more time and a less pressing social calendar with folks outside of the home. This is great during those quiet times either late in the evening or early in the morning when most people are still asleep. Diving into some good books has tremendously helped my mood especially when I’ve felt really down or frustrated. Many publishing houses, including mine, are having sales on ebooks to help readers deal with the struggle of isolation right now, and I personally really appreciate it!

Talking with Fellow Authors/Artists

Pull up Zoom and open a chat group with a few author friends you know. Schedule a happy hour with them. Bring your current work in progress and read a few paragraphs aloud, or just talk out a snag in your manuscript. Just because you’re not in a physical space together doesn’t mean your meetings have to end.

Our first virtual meeting with our local Horror Writers Association group is this weekend, and we’re doing it over Zoom. It’s great cause now I don’t have to drive an hour to make it to the meeting, and I get to pet my cats while we talk about books. It’s a win-win situation, especially for my cats!

I hope all these ideas have inspired you on ways to help deal with being an author during this time. And if you don’t feel like writing or socializing or even reading, and just want to binge another series on Netflix right now, that’s fine too! There’s no pressure to be productive during this time because we’re dealing with a pandemic that is affecting the entire world. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to just exist at times. Zone out, look at the trees, pet a cat. Sometimes that’s the best way to help ourselves.

We don’t have to define ourselves by our productivity. Let that sink in sometimes, authors!

Happy Release Day to Broken!

Wow, we are finally here, Broken, Book 2 of the Stolen series is now out in the world and I’m so excited (and nervous)!

We left Shaleigh off at a bit of a cliffhanger in a place that is definitely hostile and with an uncertain future. In Broken, things get darker as we follow both Shaleigh and Colin as they try to survive.

My publisher, Parliament House Press, has decided to lower the cost of all its ebooks to help support those who are struggling due to the coronavirus, and that includes both Stolen and Broken. Both books can be obtained for the low price of $0.99 right now. We all need books and the arts in general to help us through this difficult time right now, and all of the authors agreed that we wanted to help in any small way we could.

I hope you enjoy Broken! Stay safe out there and escape into a good book for a while. It’s certainly helped me lately.

Where to Find Stolen and Broken:

Stolen – Amazon

Broken – Amazon

Broken Paperback – The Parliament House

An Early Peek at Broken

We’re only two days away from the release of Broken, Book 2 of the best-selling Stolen series! I’m so thrilled to be able to share with you an early peek of the first two chapters of Broken.

Find out what happens with Shaleigh, Teagan, Mawr, and Colin. Experience the adventure. Beware the madness.

Read the First Two Chapters of Broken Now!

Also I’ll be doing a live chat tomorrow on Twitter! I always enjoy these cause it’s a fun and easy way to answer questions that readers and aspiring writers might have.

Join me Monday (4/6) on Twitter at 3 PM EST for a live chat. Make sure you follow the hashtag: #ParliamentWitchingHour to make sure you don’t miss anything!

Happy Release Day to Masks!

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.

Masks is now available at Filles Vertes Publishing, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.