New Release & Stoker News

I’m thrilled to announce that my story “The Certainty of Silence” was released in the Sci-Fi & Scary charity anthology Twisted Anatomy: A Body Horror Anthology. This story was written as a protest against domestic violence. This fairy tale mash-up of “Bluebeard” and “Little Mermaid” also includes nods to the sirens found in mythology, Edgar Allan Poe’s “Ligeia,” and Angela Carter’s “The Bloody Chamber.” Best of all, the proceeds from this anthology benefit the Pulmonary Hypertension Association and the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

February has been a banner month and a great way to start the year. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to talk about horror with an incredible group of women at Females of Fright!–an online panel hosted by HWA and WiHM. You can watch it at the HWA’s YouTube channel HERE.

In other news, the anthology Arterial Bloom made it to the Bram Stoker Award final ballot for Superior Achievement in an Anthology. My story “Rotten” is the last story in this beautiful book, which was edited by award-winning author Mercedes M. Yardley. This is the first time one of my stories has been included in an anthology under consideration for a Bram Stoker Award, and I couldn’t be more excited about it!

It’s wonderful to see so many women writers and diverse voices on this Stoker ballot! I think it’s simply marvelous, and I’m proud to be a member of an organization that works so hard to support all writers.

On Rejections and Awards

There is one thing all writers have in common, regardless of genre and skill. It doesn’t even hinge on author presence and publication history. At some point in every writer’s career, rejection hits. It’s just part of the game.

Yet, rejection stings. Every single time.

Prior to my current work in fiction and poetry, I had non-fiction career under a different name. I published hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles. I was a columnist and a grant writer. I compiled white papers for private companies and confidential reports for the Department of Defense. And, I contributed to dozens of travel guides; four of which I was the sole author. Yet even then, even when referrals came in faster than I could write, I still faced rejection.

When I turned my focus to fiction in 2014, I thought I had enough grit and experience to face the inevitable. However, no one told me that the rate of rejection is exponentially higher in fiction than it is in non-fiction. Being a writer of fiction is like being tossed in a pit with starving lions. It’s a blood bath.

One of the first stories I wrote as Carina Bissett was “Rotten,” a modern take on “Snow White.” In it’s polished form, it was good enough to earn an acceptance to the M.F.A. program in Creative Writing (Popular Fiction) at Stonecoast (University of Southern Maine). Yet, it took three years from this story’s first rejection to an acceptance, and it took another sixteen months after that before it ended up in print. Over the course of the three years I submitted “Rotten,” it was rejected fourteen times. I wondered if it would ever find a home.

Needless to say, I was thrilled when it was finally accepted by Mercedes M. Yardley (an award-winning author in her own right) for inclusion in an anthology published by Crystal Lake Publishing. It was even more exciting to discover that “Rotten” was slated as the final story in the book! (This was one of my “firsts” last year. In fact, my work took the coveted spot of the last story in TWO anthologies: Arterial Bloom and Bitter Distillations.)

When Arterial Bloom came out in March 2020, I didn’t think I could be happier. (Just look at the gorgeous cover!) And then, I opened my email yesterday to discover that Arterial Bloom made the Bram Stoker Awards preliminary ballot for Superior Achievement in an Anthology!

Will Arterial Bloom make it to the final ballot? I suppose only time will tell. In any case, I will always appreciate this moment. There were times when I nearly trunked this story. I became convinced no one would want to read it, which makes it all that much sweeter that self-doubt didn’t win. I’m considering this journey a lesson in patience and resilience. Sometimes, stories just need to find the right editor to believe in them. Mercedes M. Yardley just so happened to be the perfect reader for this particular story. Thank you, Mercedes! And a special thanks to all of the readers who nominated this beautiful little book. It’s been a fabulous way to start the new year!

Superior Achievement in an Anthology

Bailey, Michael and Murano, Doug – Miscreations: Gods, Monstrosities & Other Horrors (Written Backwards)

Cagle, Ryan and Jenkins, James D. – The Valancourt Book of World Horror Stories, Volume 1 (Valancourt Books)

Flynn, Geneve and Murray, Lee – Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women (Omnium Gatherum Media)

Givens Kurtz, Nicole – Slay: Stories of the Vampire (Mocha Memoirs Press)

Kelly, Michael – Shadows & Tall Trees 8 (Undertow Publications)

Kolesnik, Samantha – Worst Laid Plans: An Anthology of Vacation Horror (Grindhouse Press)

Neal, David T. and Scott, Christine M. – The Fiends in the Furrows II: More Tales of Folk Horror (Nosetouch Press)

Rector, Jeani and Wild, Dean H. – The Horror Zine’s Book of Ghost Stories (HellBound Books Publishing, LLC)

Tantlinger, Sara – Not All Monsters: A Strangehouse Anthology by Women of Horror (Rooster Republic Press)

Yardley, Mercedes M. – Arterial Bloom (Crystal Lake Publishing)

Publication Announcements & End of the Year Round-Up

I just received a parcel delivered through Royal Mail! Inside were my contributor copies of Bitter Distillations: An Anthology of Poisonous Tales, which was edited by Mark Beech and published by Egaeus Press. It is a beautiful book, and I’m beyond thrilled that my story “An Embrace of Poisonous Intent” closes out this gorgeous array of tales. I’ve been adding titles put out by Egaeus Press to by bookshelves for a couple of years now. The fact that copies of their newest anthology showed up on the last day of the year makes this story success that much sweeter.

Although 2020 has been a challenging year in many ways, it has also been one of my most productive. I finished my first novel, which I’m currently editing under the guidance of the amazing Angela Slatter. (If you have the opportunity to work with her, take it. Trust me on this.) I also wrote five original stories including “An Embrace of Poisonous Intent” and “The Stages of Monster Grief: A Guide for Middle-aged Vampires,” which came out in the October publication of Coffin Blossoms.

This year was a year filled with firsts for me. My story “Rotten” was the final story in the Crystal Lake anthology Arterial Bloom, edited by Mercedes M. Yardley. I also had a story listed as the opening story with the publication of “An Authentic Experience” in Wild: Uncivilized Tales from Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. The linked vignettes I wrote for The Lost Citadel Roleplaying Game were published by Green Ronin Publishing in December. And I also celebrated my first translated story with the Japanese publication of “A Seed Planted” in Night Land Quarterly, Vol. 21.

In the end, my work came out in nine publications (including two reprints) in 2020. Although I only published two stories in 2019, they both received mentions this year as well. My story “Burning Bright” from Gorgon: Stories of Emergence received a nod from the renowned editor Ellen Datlow in The Best Horror of the Year, Vol. 12, and Terror at ‘5280, which includes my story “Gaze with Undimmed Eyes and the World Drops Dead,” won Best Anthology at the 2020 Best Book Awards (BBA) by American Book Fest.

In addition to my own publications, I co-edited the charity anthology Weird Dream Society: An Anthology of the Possible & Unsubstantiated in Support of RAICES, and I was a judge for the HWA Poetry Showcase, Vol. VII. I also had the wonderful opportunity to share my favorite books of 2020 at Vernacular Books.

My planner is full of hopes and dreams for 2021, and I look forward to the creative challenges ahead. Happy New Year!