“In this fourth annual edition, you’ll find 100 of the weirdest, most outrageous, wackiest, scariest, puzzlingest (is that really a word?) short stories submitted for this anthology in 2021.
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be shocked, scared, and maybe even perflutzed by some of the stories you’ll find, in many different genres and styles. But with nearly every story, we know you’ll be surprised.
But now it’s time for you to quit reading these promo bits, brace yourself and dig in. Have fun!”
I have two stories featured in this anthology, A Mother’s Heart and Rare Reception ~ and was amazed to learn that out of the 100 stories featured in this year’s anthology, A Mother’s Heart was awarded 2nd place! This year’s volume is so thick that the print version had to be split into two editions, but there’s a Kindle version available!
Is the Noir Crime sub-genre always dark and downbeat? Is there a time when Bad has a change of conscience, flips sides and takes on the Good role?
Noir is almost always a dish served up raw and bloody – Fiction bleu if you will. So maybe this is a chance to see if Noir can be served sunny side up – with the aid of these fifteen short order authors:
Laurence Raphael Brothers, Shannon Hollinger, Lillie Franks, H. E. Vogl, Allison Whittenberg, Bruce Harris, Robert J. Mendenhall, Shawn Kobb, Dan Meyers, James Roth, Jesse Aaron, Julian Grant, E. James Wilson, Brandon Barrows, Hollis Miller and Joe Giordano
All fifteen give us dark tales from the stormy side of life – which is probably why it’s always raining in Noir City….
My story Tracked will appear in the Bloody Good Horror Anthology, which is expected to release this winter. This is a more recent piece, written during the last year, and is the first horror story I’ve written in half a decade. Tracked is also unique in that it’s the first Young Adult short story I’ve ever written, but fear not – the teenage characters don’t make this story any less dark and disturbing! I had so much fun writing this one that it led to the inception of what is perhaps my most spinetingling, toe-curling horror short ever (also YA), a piece I’m really proud of and hope to be able to share with you soon!
My piece Love Blind has been accepted by the quarterly literary magazine Third Wednesday for their winter issue. Love Blind is a work of flash fiction that I wrote several years ago and recently ‘rediscovered’ in my files. This short mixes what I hope is a surprise ending with a little dark, tongue-in-cheek humor.
Two more flash fiction stories rediscovered in the dark corners of my file drive, A Mother’s Heart and Rare Reception, have both been accepted by The BOULD Awards Anthology. Both pieces lean towards the satirical. A Mother’s Heart is dark (do you see a theme here?) and sardonic and does not end up where you’re expecting! Rare Reception is more of a straight-up humor piece that I still clearly remember writing back when I accepted a job position that required me to help answer the phones. I hate answering phones. You have to find a way to make it fun. (Trust me – you do NOT want me answering your phone!) Expect to see the BOULD Awards Anthology late this November.
Life has been crazy hectic this summer. I’ve been juggling monkeys and herding cats, and unfortunately, the time it takes to do this (trying to get a monkey to behave or a cat to stop ignoring you and obey are both very labor intensive chores) has greatly diminished my writing time.
And I’ll be honest here and confess that I get insanely cranky when I’m writing and get interrupted, and will usually just ignore whatever the interruption is until it goes away. But that wasn’t going to work this time. So, instead of creating new material with what scant time I’ve manage to squirrel away, I’ve spent those far and few between moments excavating old, forgotten about short stories from my file explorer, brushing them up, and submitting them for publication.
I’m thrilled to announce that my story, Here I Am, will appear in the fall 2021 issue of 34 Orchard, due out November 11th. Described as ‘a literary journal that takes you dark places,’ it was a perfect home for this piece, which, as the editor describes it, “is infused with a pervasive sense of sadness and regret that’s hard to escape; visceral work that illustrates the dark reality of our world; those internal things we cannot talk about, but we all know exist.”
I wrote Here I Am about 2 years ago. It’s definitely a departure from my normal mysteries, and I was reluctant to find out how it would be received. This acceptance was a lesson in ‘no risk, no reward’!
My story, Last Stop Of The Night, has been accepted for the next issue of Pulp Modern, themed 1981, which was, according to editor Alec Cizak, “a fantastic year for genre literature and cinema,” specifically in terms of horror. Which makes this piece . . . you guessed it! A horror story.
I wrote Last Stop Of The Night 6-8 years ago. Loosely based on a real life experience followed by a dream I had after, I felt this piece was a little too retro horror to appeal to a modern publisher. This acceptance proves that if you write it, there is a market and an audience who will appreciate it!
I’m also happy to share that my story, Money Talks, has been acquired by Murderous Ink Press for a new project they’re working on called It’s Always Raining in Noir City. A publisher of “crime fiction in most of its many and varied guises,” they’re an ideal publisher for this piece!
Money Talks, in it’s current form, was completed early last year. However, I’d been kicking around the core idea for this one for the better part of a decade, and had many false starts. I wanted to develop this idea into something serious and hard hitting. Once I let go of what I wanted to force it to be, the words flowed and I finally managed to complete the story. This acceptance proves that sometimes the story knows best – even better than the author!
I’m looking forward to life slowing down and more time opening up to write, but until then, I’ll keep making the most of it. I like reading through my old work (even when it makes me cringe) and applying what I’ve learned since into strengthening old pieces until they’re ready to see the light of day (or the page)!
For all you other writers out there, keep at it! Find a way to use what time you have wisely, and don’t be afraid to submit – there’s someone out there who wants to read it!
Crime manifests itself in many forms. But it always bleeds red.
WATER TURNS RED is a collection of 21 chilling stories that explore the various shades of this ghastly color red. Within these pages lie the corpses of those killed in cold blood, the cunning minds of their killers, and the wits of detectives. Together they paint a disturbing image of the human psyche.
My collection of short stories was released in the US one month ago today. And while I’ve been published before (all of the pieces in the book featured my reoccurring character Detective Shaw and had previously appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies), this was different. This book, every part of it, was mine.
There were no stories by other authors to carry the reader through if they didn’t like my writing, the style, the voice of the piece, the characters or the plot. If a reader hated this book, the only one they could find fault with was me. It’s a daunting thing, making yourself vulnerable, putting yourself out there like that. I didn’t know what to expect.
And, this being my first release, I had no idea what to do.
I didn’t do any blog tours. I didn’t even do a proper book release leading up to publication.
I wrote the stories, put them together, formatted them, etc., but that’s the easy part. Getting someone to read them is an entirely different, much more difficult task. Because obviously, that’s the goal, right? To be read? But how, exactly, do you get those readers?
I used my Bookfunnel account (I pay $20 a year, which allows me to offer a link for a pdf, mobi and epub file for up to 5 books, which is how I distribute a free copy of a short story to people who subscribe to my newsletter), to create a landing page for a free download of the book. I then took out an ad with a $15 budget on Facebook targeting mystery readers in the US, UK and Canada. I had 72 downloads.
I also posted on several boards on Goodreads offering free copies for review. I had about 25 people request a copy.
I offered a free download to everyone on my mailing list. Six people requested a copy.
So, in the first week, I managed to get my book into over a hundred hands. I actually only know 2 of those 100+ people.
I’m painfully introverted – it was difficult and awkward just posting requests for reviewers on Goodreads – and there I was, relying on the kindness of strangers. Crossing my fingers that I got some reviews. And that they were good. And that some of them ended up on Amazon. Because just a tiny bit of research will tell you that’s what it’s all about – after getting 50 reviews on Amazon, Amazon will start taking measures to advertise your book for you. What writer wouldn’t want that?
And then, instead of obsessing about it, clicking the refresh button every five minutes to see if someone had left a review or actually *gasp* purchased a copy of the book (I made myself wait at least ten minutes to refresh), I got back to writing. Now, one month later, here are my results:
16 ratings, 15 reviews on Goodreads, 6 reviews on Amazon, and 6 books sold. I even got a little Instagram love from the fabulous @Booking.With.Janelle!
I’m more interested in reviews at this point than in selling copies of the book, I believe that one will lead to the other. I’m happy with these results, and believe it’s proof that you don’t need a huge budget to advertise your book.
But I’m going to tell you what you do need – an end product that lets readers know you respect their time. Which means making sure the copy is clean by EDITING your butt off – then doing it again and again! Working on the formatting until you get it right. Resisting the urge to hound the people who directly requested a copy from you, asking where their review is.
And I’m going to say it again. EDIT. We’re all human. I’ve found typos in books distributed by the major publishing houses. And there’s no denying that it’s hard to catch errors on something that you’ve read over a dozen times, especially when you wrote it, because you know what it’s supposed to say. But, as writers, if we expect readers to make the effort to leave a review, we should first make the effort to make sure what they’re reading is our absolute best effort, whether that means reading the work out loud, backwards, one sentence at a time, trading edits with another writer, or all of the above.
The reason I’m harping on this is that I’m hesitant to read books by Indie authors myself because I’ve read so many that were error ridden. And a couple of the reviews I received remarked about the lack of typos, which means other readers have had this experience as well. The publishing world is changing. The gatekeepers have lost control and now anyone can – and does – publish their work on the various available platforms. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t make sure the book babies we’re releasing into the world aren’t quality work. Take the time, make the effort, and your readers will thank you (and read your next book!).
If you missed out on getting a copy of Detecting Fear and you want to do so, it will be available FREE on Amazon next weekend.
Your heart pounds in your chest, breath catching in your throat as the hair on the back of your neck slowly prickles with the feeling of being watched.
What is it that you’re truly afraid of?
The neighbor next door who might be a serial killer? Falling prey to a psychopath? Or your own inner demons, unleashed? Murder, mystery, mayhem – pick your poison.
The stories in this anthology, previously published in periodicals ranging from Suspense Magazine to The Saturday Evening Post, run the gamut from Hard-Boiled to cozy, noir to funny, with whodunit as the theme.
Whether you’re a fan of great past detectives like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and Poirot, or modern investigators like Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad and Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta, you’ll find something to satisfy your inner sleuth within these pages.
I’m thrilled to finally share the cover for my short story collection, Detecting Fear, with you all! The book hits stores February 21st, 2021.
The ARC will still be available for request on Netgalley for the next few weeks. Click here to request your FREE copy on Netgalley!
No Netgalley account? No problem! You can get a PDF, Mobi or ePub version over at Bookfunnel, no account needed, just follow the link for a download. Click here to get your FREE copy at Bookfunnel!
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If you’re a subscriber to my newsletter, this won’t be a surprise for you.
Last year I was contacted by an acquisitions editor in Russia who had stumbled upon a story of mine that appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, wanting to know if I’d be willing to consider working with the publishing company she represented on a book. They were specifically interested if I had more short fiction featuring Detective Shaw, the main character from the piece It’s All About The Cat.
Well, I did. Detective Shaw is a reoccurring character who’s stories have appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies. But I felt a little sketchy about the offer, because, at least in my experience, this isn’t the way it usually goes . . . it seemed to me like it could have been a scam.
It turns out it wasn’t!
The publishing company purchased the use of all my previously published pieces featuring Detective Shaw to use in a book intended to help Russian speakers learn to speak English, and vice versa. This would be achieved, they explained, by presenting the stories in both languages. It was simple enough on my end – all I had to do was sit back while they performed the translation, the formatting and design. Easy peasy.
And now . . . the book was just released and I have my contributor copies in hand!!!
But it got me thinking . . . why not release a version in the US?
So guess what? I am!
Check back later this week for the cover reveal! And if you don’t feel like waiting, join my mailing list and be among the first to check it out and get a copy for FREE!