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Author: C.D. Watson

Horror in Romance at the 2017 RT Booklovers Convention

Horror in Romance at the 2017 RT Booklovers Convention

A few months ago, fellow author Rebekah R. Ganiere put out the call to a chapter of the Romance Writers of America searching for authors to participate in a Horror in Romance panel at the upcoming RT Booklovers Convention taking place 2-7 May 2017 in Atlanta.

I jumped at the opportunity. Several of my published stories, and a few planned ones, can be classified as both Horror and Romance. The obvious ones, of course, are those within The Vampyr Series: The Vampire's Pet, The Vampire's Favorite, The New Vampire, and the final installment, The Master Vampire. While I've categorized them as Paranormal Romance at online retailers (so the target audience can find them), they're technically Erotic Dark Fantasy, or Horror with supernatural elements and a satisfying romance over the four-book story arc.

Later (planned) stories in the Sunshine Walkingstick Series could also be classified as Dark Fantasy, although the earlier ones, while containing an ever increasing amount of monsters, are very well placed in the Contemporary Fantasy and Urban Fantasy categories. The strong romantic subplot between Sunny and Riley qualifies it as a Romance in many folks' minds (not always by the Romance Writers of America, ironically enough, since it requires a central love story and a Happy Ever After or Happy For Now in a single book), especially when the romance is viewed over the entire series.

And then there are the stories planned for Isobel Fletcher, my newest pen name, some of which will most definitely combine the two genres into Romantic Horror. Or should it be called Horrific Romance? Either way, stories falling under this subgenre are bound to thrill and delight.

All in all, I'm super excited to be on the Horror in Romance panel at #RT17, and I'm ecstatic about being able to hear other authors discuss their experiences successfully merging the two genres. I'm not sure what questions or topics Rebekah has planned, but I hope we cover lots of ground, like defining Horror and Dark Fantasy, and incorporating elements of the macabre, scary, and downright gross into a strong Romance.

The panel is scheduled for the afternoon of March 3rd. If you're planning on attending the con, drop by and listen in. And if you're not, attendance information is available online at RT Booklovers Convention 2017. See you there!

 

Book and Author News

Book and Author News

I know everyone's anxious to learn the names of the winners of the "Three Years Published" giveaway I ran last month for readers of books published under all my current pen names, Lucy Varna, V.R. Cumming, and Celia Roman. For the sake of fairness, I divided the giveaway into two sections, one for US residents and the other for International readers. The US prize consisted of a Kindle Paperwhite and an ebook of the winner's choosing. The International prize consisted of a $25 Amazon.com gift card and an ebook of the winner's choosing. 

And now, here are the winners: Tashia J. (US) and Bruce O. (UK).

Many thanks to everyone who entered! I really appreciate the show of support and the chance to get these prizes into the hands of my readers.

The Deep Wood, the second book in the Sunshine Walkingstick Series (written under the name Celia Roman), is now available as an ebook at Amazon and as a paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and CreateSpace. The retail prices are, respectively, $2.99 and $11.99. It's also available through Kindle Unlimited.

I've teamed up with a wonderful narrator to produce audiobooks for this series. She just finished the first fifteen minutes of Greenwood Cove, the first book, and got it to me a few days ago, and I approved it right away. Look for the finished audiobook to be available in stores around late April 2017.

I'm hard at work on Cemetery Hill, the third book in the Sunshine Walkingstick Series, which I hope to get out next month as well. While the cover for a fourth book is already finished, I haven't decided yet whether or not I'll continue the series beyond the first three books. Greenwood Cove is taking some heat because it's written in Sunny's native dialect; apparently some folks are intolerant of the way mountain folk talk. Oddly enough, when it was in the early stages of being developed, I ran the first few chapters by some Australian friends and they had no problems understanding the slang or the story.

At any rate, I'm working on a blog post discussing why I wrote Sunny the way I did (short answer: she came to me that way) and the value of the local speech, in part to spread a little tolerance and in part because readers always seem to be curious about the decisions authors make.

Here's the (tentative) order of stories I'll be working on this year, barring any additions to the Celia Roman pen name:

Of course, I usually work on several manuscripts at once so the order isn't exact. For example, right now I'm working on several short stories (including one set in Sunny's world), Cemetery Hill, and The Gathering Storm. While I'm not actively working on The Master Vampire on a regular basis, I do bring it out and fiddle with it once a month or so, and I'm starting to do some serious development on Sweet Surrender and Redemption as well as future stories.

Hey, it's a weird process, but it works for me.

The audio edition of Alien Mine (The Pruxnae, Book 3), written under the name Lucy Varna, is now available at Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. This series is now all caught up on all the formats I intend to publish through the fourth book, except for any bundling (e.g. an omnibus edition). Sweet Surrender will be the final book in the series. I currently have no plans to continue the story world beyond that, although I do have plenty of ideas should readers wish for more stories.

A Giveaway Celebrating Three Years as a Published Author

A Giveaway Celebrating Three Years as a Published Author

Three years ago this month, I published my first novel, The Prophecy. It was a huge step for me. I’d always wanted to write fiction, but could never get past the initial idea and first few scenes of a story.

That changed in November 2013, when I had a huge epiphany: writing fiction wasn’t all that different from writing non-fiction, something I’d been doing for a while. All I had to do was translate the outlining and other skills I’d developed as a genealogist, first as an amateur and later as a professional, into stories.

Seven weeks later, I’d completed the first draft of The Prophecy. I’m not going to pretend it was easy. It most certainly was not, but it was one of the most satisfying feats I’ve ever accomplished.

Over the past three years, I’ve published a total of eighteen novels and novellas as well as more than half a dozen shorter stories under three pen names, Lucy Varna, V.R. Cumming, and Celia Roman. None of that would’ve been possible without you, the reader.

To celebrate my three year anniversary as an author, I’m holding two very special giveaways for all my newsletter subscribers, one for readers living in the United States and another for readers outside the US. One grand prize is available for each set of subscribers:

  • For US residents (you must have a US mailing address and a valid email address): One Kindle Paperwhite, plus one ebook edition of any of my currently available novels or novellas, your choice.
  • For non-US residents (you must have a valid email address): A $25 Amazon.com gift certificate, plus one ebook edition of any of my currently available novels or novellas, your choice.

Rules: The giveaway ends at midnight EST on February 28, 2017. To be eligible, you must subscribe to one (not all!) of the newsletters for any of my pen names (Lucy Varna, V.R. Cumming, Celia Roman). To enter, comment below using the email address used to subscribe to said newsletter. In the comments, include your state (if you’re a US resident) or your country (if you’re a non-US resident) and the name of the pen name whose books you read (e.g. Canada, Celia Roman) so that I can verify each entrant’s status as a newsletter subscriber. Additional comments are welcome. Winners will be chosen at random within one calendar week of the entry period’s closing and notified shortly thereafter by email. I reserve the right to choose another winner should the initial winner(s) not respond to the notifying email within three days of it being sent. The notifying email will come from cd [at] cdwatsonauthor [dot] com, so add that addy to your list of safe email addresses. Winners will be probably announced in various places online (this blog and the blogs of my pen names, social media sites, and my various fiction newsletters), so be prepared to have your first name or initials and country of origin shared.

That’s pretty much it.

I know you’re wondering why I’m not opening this giveaway up to non-subscribers, and the answer is simple. My newsletter subscribers are my most loyal readers. They’re the ones who’ve helped me build my writing career by buying, reading, and reviewing my books. Without them, I would’ve failed a long time ago, so it’s only appropriate that this giveaway be centered on my biggest fans.

If you know of someone who would be interested in this giveaway, please encourage them to read one of my books first (The Prophecy and The Vampire’s Pet are free, and the others are not expensive). If they enjoy those, then they are free to subscribe to the pertinent newsletter and comment below to enter the giveaway.

To be honest, though, if I were looking to attract new readers with this giveaway, I would’ve set it up differently. So share or don’t; I won’t be offended either way. This is simply my way of expressing gratitude for three wonderful years writing and publishing stories.

Thank you, my friends, and good luck. Here’s to three more years!

P.S. I get a lot of spam on this blog, so comments are held in moderation until approved. All comments that aren’t spam are approved, but it may take me a few hours to sort through everything. Thanks for your patience! I should’ve mentioned this at the start. 🙂

The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod

The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod

I released the first edition of my first novel, The Prophecy, a little more than three years ago today. Since then, I’ve worked hard to refine my writing process, increase my writing and story crafting skills, and fulfill my ultimate long-term goal as a writer: To earn a full-time living writing fiction.

About a year and a half ago, a series of events interrupted what had previously been a well-oiled writing process. I’ve spoken about those before in other places, so I’m not going to go over them again here. Suffice it to say that the consequences were devastating, as is evidenced by the diminished number of new releases (directly caused by a lack of writing productivity) in the ensuing months.

This breakdown in my process has hindered the achievement of my short- and long-term goals, on both a business and a personal level. Moving to Cashiers (July 2016) helped, but it wasn’t enough. The breakdown in my process was just that, a complete breakdown of everything from my brainstorming techniques to the actual act of writing. The peace and quiet I’ve found here in my ancestral home wasn’t enough. I needed to rebuild my writing schedule.

To that end, I gifted myself with a copy of the Dragontree Dreambook and Planner for Christmas. Make no mistake. This nifty book helped me realize and articulate the many short- and long-term goals I’ve only vaguely wished for in the past. The main drawback? Once you’ve completed the goals-setting sections, the goals are pretty much out of sight.

Additionally, there’s simply not enough room in the day-to-day planning section for me to write out exactly what needs doing each day. I ended up abandoning the planner in favor of an already established ARC calendaring system, although I used the goals mind-mapping sections to create visualizations tools. More on that in a minute.

The Miracle Morning

The DDP didn’t help me plan and stick to a schedule nearly as much as I had hoped. I realized I needed something more. A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled onto The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8 AM) by Hal Elrod. It wasn’t a life-changing read, but I can honestly say that the author provided a stark reminder of exactly why I’ve had so many problems fixing my writing schedule and returning to the level of productivity I enjoyed during the first eighteen months of my writing career.

The premise of TMM is simple: Wake up early (regardless of what your waking time is, morning, afternoon, or night) and devote one hour to personal growth through six key areas Elrod coins “Life S.A.V.E.R.S.”: Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, and Scribing (i.e. journaling), in whatever order works best for the practitioner.

Many highly successful people use two or three of these waking rituals to center their minds and focus their activities. Elrod and many others who have incorporated the Life S.A.V.E.R.S. ritual into their days have used them in exactly the same way, most especially to increase motivation, self-discipline, and productivity.

The ultimate outcome is, of course, to use that self-discipline to reach goals, a point Elrod hammers into the ground. Unfortunately, The Miracle Morning contains no overview of how to set realistic, achievable goals, a glaring lack in an otherwise well-rounded narrative. To be fair, the journal (sold separately) provides a brief overview of goal-setting and achievement, but I didn’t purchase the journal as I’m already overloaded with organizers. For the interested, a sample journal is available on the TMM website; the link is included in the book.

The tone of TMM is half-motivational, half-guideline to creating and maintaining a personalized morning ritual. It’s a deceptively breezy read for the depth of the ideas presented, and really needs one’s full attention (and possibly a second or third read) to truly grasp how and why the waking ritual works.

Applying the Principles

I was already rehydrating (a practice Elrod encourages) and exercising for 30-45 minutes upon waking nearly every day. When I stumbled on The Miracle Morning (via Jeff Goins’ podcast “The Portfolio Life“), I immediately incorporated reading self-improvement books into my exercise time.

Hey, I’m on a FitDesk. Checking my e-mail only takes so long, so I start with reading and when I’ve read the scheduled two or three chapters, I move on to e-mail and so on. I started out trying to complete Larry Brooks’s Story Engineering, which I pick up and put down on a regular basis because of the author’s *ahem* less than flexible mindset.

Thanks to Elrod’s suggestion to focus on personal growth and development, I’m now dividing my waking exercise/reading time between SE and Smart Women Finish Rich by David Bach. The latter aligns neatly with one of my long-term goals (Achieving Financial Security), so it’s a two birds, one stone kind of thing.

It took me a few days after completing The Miracle Morning to actually incorporate the remainder of the ritual into my waking routine. One of the biggest obstacles was figuring out when I needed to wake up in order to fit Life S.A.V.E.R.S. into my routine and have time to complete all my writing related activities. For the visualization and affirmation elements, I wanted to have a physical reminder of my goals to focus on, so I had to figure out how to do that in a way that would be functional without occupying too much space.

Following Through

This morning was the first time I attempted to incorporate all six elements into a morning ritual. I set my alarm for 8:30, which is a ridiculously early hour for me. (Lights out was about 2:30 a.m.) I figured I would need an hour and a half at the most, even while breaking my exercise into two parts, yoga first thing to help me achieve one aspect of my Health and Fitness Goal (flexibility), and my usual 30-45 minutes on the FitDesk to round out the ritual and complete my reading.

Eh. It didn’t quite work out that way.

I’ve never practiced yoga before, so I had to search for an appropriate video on YouTube. (I waited until this morning to do it. Not purposefully. I simply forgot to do it last night.) The first video I tried was supposed to be for complete beginners, but I promise you, it was not.

The second try, 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene – Day 1, was much better, but it took up more time than I had originally thought I would need. No worries. Affirmations, meditation, and visualizations took fifteen minutes tops. It didn’t put me back on schedule, but when I moved on to the FitDesk and reading, I didn’t feel rushed or pressured.

I rounded the ritual out with a shower, then sat down to journal while my brunch was cooking. (Two strips of bacon and two fried eggs, per my Paleo-friendly diet, another aspect of my Health and Fitness Goal.) My plan was to complete the morning ritual, then focus on business related activities until about noon, run some errands, and write during the afternoon. I ended up taking a fifteen to twenty minute nap halfway through my writing time because I was simply too groggy to focus.

In spite of that, I was quite pleased with my morning of mindful ritual. I’m still more tense than I would like (I’m under quite a bit of stress right now, not all of it self-imposed), but my sense of purpose is clearer and the focus on visualization and affirmations shored up my self-discipline, allowing me to focus on important activities.

The Miracle Morning and Writing

For me, the biggest takeaway from The Miracle Morning was the reminder to use visualization as a tool of empowerment and otherwise. See yourself taking the steps needed to achieve your goals. See the rewards of working hard for the things that are important to you. Don’t just think about them; actually walk yourself through them.

Having my goals mind-mapped in excruciating, color-coordinated detail (thanks to the Dragontree Dreambook and Planner) and laid out on a corkboard where I can see what I’m working toward was a huge help. I faced the day with a clear picture of why I’m focusing on the particular work I’m doing right now, which really does help tremendously, especially when I’m working on a story that isn’t flowing well.

Visualization helps with that, as well. Back in the good ol’ days of high productivity, the characters populating my story worlds spent a great deal of time walking around in my head. They’ve been missing for quite some time now, and I promise you, their absence has been felt.

I’ve struggled for the past eighteen months or so to recapture the same spark I had prior to that, but it wasn’t until I read the transcript of the previously mentioned podcast episode that it hit me: Visualization was a key part of my writing process, one I haven’t used in months. I’m now deliberately inviting the characters back into my mind, deliberately prodding them through the scene, deliberately coaxing them into opening up for me, all through visualization.

Visualizing the Story Another Way

That lack of character interaction has led to another problem: My inability to hold the overarching story in my head and heart, the two parts of my creative self from which stories emerge.

I ended up going back down the mountain and buying another corkboard, this one for my story cards. I use index cards to lay out the plot points I want to cover in each story. When I first started writing, I pinned the index cards to a wall and worked back and forth along the plot points until I had enough for a full-length novel. I still outline that way, as much as I ever outline (never to the point of a complete, rigid outline, as I work better when I discover the characters and story as I write), but as soon as I was satisfied with the plot points I’d captured, I would unpin the cards and collate them into a rubberbanded stack, which I then referenced as I wrote the first draft.

Since the breaking point of my routine, I’ve really struggled to translate those plot points into story, in part, I sincerely believe, because I no longer have a complete overview of the story internalized where I can draw from it as I write. Laying those cards out so I can “see” the entire story all at once will, I hope, allow me to pull the characters back into my head, right where they belong.

Final Thoughts

I’m not entirely convinced that The Miracle Morning is the greatest motivational book ever, nor that it’s going to be useful for everyone. That said, I hope to use the waking rituals laid out within it to hone my self-discipline so that I can meet the goals I’ve set for myself, get my writing back on track (a continuing struggle over the past year and a half), and ensure not only a productive work schedule, but a calmer, happier, more focused life.

Recommended for anyone who wants to achieve a balanced, successful life, in whatever way one defines success.

Book and Author News

Book and Author News

Lots going on across my various pen names. First up, two GoodReads giveaways, one for A Warrior's Touch (The Pruxnae Series, Book 4, written under the name Lucy Varna) and a second for The New Vampire (The Vampyr Series, Book 3, written under the name V.R. Cumming). Both begin on January 10 and end on January 20. Three copies are up for grabs to US residents. Click below to enter. Good luck to each of you!

A Warrior’s Touch giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Warrior's Touch by Lucy Varna

A Warrior's Touch

by Lucy Varna

Giveaway ends January 20, 2017.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

The New Vampire giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The New Vampire by V.R. Cumming

The New Vampire

by V.R. Cumming

Giveaway ends January 20, 2017.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

The print edition of Greenwood Cove, a brand new Urban (Contemporary) Fantasy released under the name Celia Roman, is now available for $11.99 through CreateSpace. It will be available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers within the next week or so. 

The digital edition has been set for a tentative release date in early February, pending completion of the first draft for the third book in the series. I'm planning four books total for the initial release period. Scheduled titles are: Greenwood Cove, The Deep Wood, Cemetery Hill, and Witch Hollow.

The audiobook edition of A Warrior's Touch is finally here and available at Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. Like previous audiobooks in the Pruxnae Series, A Warrior's Touch was narrated by Angel Clark and Matthew Josdal.

Angel is now hard at work on the audiobook edition of Alien Mine, which will feature her and a brand new male narrator. I'll have more details on production at a later date.

A Warrior's Touch (The Pruxnae, Book 4) by Lucy Varna
Review: The Gunslinger (Dark Tower, Book 1) by Stephen King

Review: The Gunslinger (Dark Tower, Book 1) by Stephen King

Stephen King was an oft-read author during my teen years, primarily because he’s one of my father’s favorite authors and his books were in our home library. King’s dark imagery has the infinite power to draw the reader in, like a spider luring a fly, and snare the imagination in the vividly drawn worlds he creates.

The Gunslinger in its revised and updated version is no different. While King readily admits in prefatory comments to updating the language of this, one of his earlier works, the story itself, at its core, remains the same.

Roland, the titular character and the primary narrator, is a gunslinger whose attitude and manner echoes the bygone era of the Old West. He is the last of his kind, a remnant of a higher culture, forced by fate and circumstance only partially explained in The Gunslinger to journey alone in search of the Man in Black and the Dark Tower.

The Man in Black is a sorcerer who assumes many forms during the drawn out chase. In flashbacks, he is the man cuckolding Roland’s father and the same’s murderer. In the story’s luridly described present, the Man in Black is a setter of traps and the servant of the entity ruling the Dark Tower.

Roland and the Man in Black are by and large the most well crafted and, therefore, most easily understood characters populating The Gunslinger. Other characters fare almost as well, like Alice, the owner of a saloon-esque establishment who becomes Roland’s lover for a time. In Alice, King captures the futile desperation of life for a woman living in a remote settlement, cut off from the society of decent folk and men.

Other characters are shortchanged. Jake, an orphaned child yanked out of time and place by the Man in Black, is by turns loved and hated by Roland. His past is teased out through hypnosis and his emotions are evident, but he is only a tool within the plot rather than a fully drawn character.

And that tool to the plot feeling lingers in other important characters: Roland’s parents, high society hobnobs who deliberately and otherwise distance themselves from their only child by having him trained as a gunslinger, in a manner similar to the Spartans; Roland’s early ka-tet, his training group with whom he should have the most in common, but from whom he remains separate; and other characters whose roles seem to be in spurring Roland toward his ultimate destiny rather than having any internal or external motivation of their own.

In spite of this and the often overblown descriptions, The Gunslinger is a wonderful introduction to a story world that is by turns surreally antithetical (in its reversion to an almost feudalistic treatment of individuals) and eerily similar to our own. Recommended to all readers of Fantasy and fans of Stephen King. (Paperback, Kindle)

Friday Finds

Friday Finds

Header image:
Smoke has become a real problem across Western North Carolina and the surrounding areas as wildfires burn in several national forest locations.
Photograph courtesy of Cris Bessette.

A roundup of interesting books, movies, and tidbits, some old, some new, and some stuff I just wanted to share.

Halloween may be over (unless you're a Hobbit, in which case, Second Halloween!), but this movie is one I'll be watching again soon. 

Because I only watched it twice leading up to Halloween, thank you very much.

Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman deliver outstanding performances in the lead roles, and are supported admirably by Stockard Channing and Dianne Wiest as The Aunts, and Goran Visnjic and Aidan Quinn as the Owens sisters' love interests. 

Now, some of you probably think that because I'm a writer, I should be pointing to the book on which the movie was based, Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman. Uh, no. This is one of the few cases where the movie was far, far better than the book. Stick with the movie. Don't watch it alone and, for pete's sake, "Always throw spilled salt over your left shoulder. Keep rosemary by your garden gate. Add pepper to your mashed potatoes. Plant roses and lavender, for luck. Fall in love whenever you can."

Dubbed a techno-thriller by reviewers, Chuck Wendig's Zeroes is the story of a group of misfit hackers who are pulled together and coerced (read: imprisoned and forced) to work for a shadow government agency to an end that becomes clear after a terrifying and weird twisting journey. Technology geeks and nerds of all flavors will enjoy this one particularly, but anyone who likes a fast-paced, intense story should find a good read between the covers. I did, and no one can accuse me of being a geek... Oh, wait.

Every once in a while, I go on a mini-book-buying spree. A couple of days ago, for instance, I ordered five paperbacks ranging the gamut from Epic Fantasy to Urban Fantasy to Science Fiction. Amazon is my friend. 

So is Barnes & Noble. Whenever I'm in Asheville, I try to stop by the local B&N and browse the new releases, and usually come home with at least one book. On the trip before last, I picked up one by debut author Becky Chambers, whose first work is titled The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

The title alone is worth the read.

Amazingly enough, Harper Collins, the publisher, has set the Kindle edition's price to $1.99, completely contravening the Big 5's usual practice of pricing digital editions as high as, or higher than, the paperback edition. (Or, at least, that was the price when I wrote this blog post at 4:38 p.m. on Thursday, 10 November 2016, EST.)

This was the book I took with me to read during my recent Kodak/Knoxville, Tennessee, trip. Unfortunately, I didn't get very far into it during the trip and had to turn my attention away from fun reads toward more serious, work-related reads (see the sidebar for what I'm currently reading). Don't tell me how it ends! I want to figure that out myself.

The crew working the Jones Gap fire northwest of Highlands, North Carolina, just a few miles from my current home.
Photo courtesy of the US Forest Service.

While most around the United States are preoccupied with the recent election results, folks here in the Southeast are more concerned about the wildfires spreading across the Southern Appalachians. Some of them are being set by an arsonist(s), including those in the Macon County, North Carolina, and Rabun County, Georgia, areas. Many are being forced to evacuate, while others are under a state of emergency, and many more try to find a way to cope with the smoke permeating our air.

This is my home area, friends. The smoke is so thick in some places, the roads are impassable. My son is asthmatic. A couple of nights ago, we drove from his home in Georgia up to Sylva, NC, to eat at Bogart's. (Best burgers in Jackson County!) The smoke was so bad and so hard on his lungs, we contemplated turning around.

Smoke from wildfires diminishes the sun in Franklin, NC. Photo courtesy of Brandon Ledford.
Thick smoke from wildfires obscures the sun in the Frogtown area of Franklin, North Carolina.
Photo courtesy of Brandon Ledford.

Good thing we didn't. Halfway through our meal, a group of about eighteen forest rangers walked in, and that eventually led to my son and I visiting the Jackson County Command Center, where we spoke with a young man about donations. The folks fighting the fires include, from my understanding, forest rangers, members of the National Guard, and others flown in from at least nine states across the country, as well as local firefighters and other emergency service personnel. Under the harsh floodlights shining down on the command center, the men and women looked completely worn out. I later learned that they're shipped out to the fires after breakfast and don't come back until bedtime.

That's a long, hard day, especially considering that the only food they have in between is what they can carry in their packs and clothes.

I ended up going in with my editor (Richard, for those who don't know him) and donating a crap ton of Slim Jims, nuts and dried fruits, and sodas, the latter having been specifically requested by members of the fire crews. After the hours they work trying to stop the spread of these wildfires, the least we can do is provide something other than water and Gatorade for them to drink.

As far as I know, the command centers are still accepting donations. I only know of two, the one set up at the Holiday Inn Express just north of Dillsboro, NC, and the one set up at the old Caterpillar factory outside of Franklin, NC. (This article mentions a command center in Clay Co., NC, but I don't know the location.) Considering the scope of the fires, there have to be others, so if you're interested in donating or otherwise helping, try contacting local emergency services or ranger stations for more information.

The men and women who came here from outside the South have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the locals. Let's continue doing what we can to make their lives easier until they can return to their own families and communities.

Ledford Road smoke by Amy Watts
Smoke hangs over the road leading to property owned by my family near Franklin, North Carolina.
Photograph courtesy of Amy Watts.
Pumpkintown wildfire by Erica Welch Arvey
Fires burning across the road from a populated area in Pumpkintown, North Carolina. 
Photograph courtesy of Erica Welch Arvey.
Book News

Book News

Here's a round up of news about the books I write.

Alien Mine, the third novel in the Pruxnae Series, was released on 21 October 2016. The digital edition is available exclusively at Amazon for $3.99 and is also available in the Kindle Unlimited program through the end of the year. The print edition can be purchased for $11.99. An audio edition is in the works. The first scene can be read here.

The audio edition of A Warrior's Touch (The Pruxnae, Book 4) is nearing the final production phases. Look for more information on it to be announced soon.

The next release under the Lucy Varna name will be The Gathering Storm, the seventh installment in the Daughters of the People Series. While no release date has been set, it could arrive in stores as early as January or February 2017.

Sunshine Walkingstick popped into my head in September 2014. Over the past two years, I've been working on developing her world and eventually decided to write and release a four to five book series under a separate pen name, Celia Roman. I had planned on releasing these without telling anyone I wrote them, as one of the many experiments writers are prone to conducting.

Instead, I'm releasing Greenwood Cove, the first book in the Sunshine Walkingstick Series, one chapter at a time throughout the month of November. The first chapter was released on Halloween day, a fitting date considering that the series is Urban Fantasy. Read it here and subscribe to my newsletter to receive a notice in your inbox when each chapter is released. 

I have a couple of GoodReads giveaways coming up in a few days and will do my best to put those giveaways on the sidebar so everyone will have a chance to enter. Plus, I have a few more goodies and surprises in store for fans, old and new alike.

A few months ago , I moved into an historic family home and have been (mostly) without Internet access since. I hope to begin blogging again soon and staying in touch more frequently on social media. If you've tried to visit me on the web under my pen names (Lucy Varna, V.R. Cumming, and Celia Roman), you've probably been disappointed to find the pages either deleted or inactive. That's because I've been trying to consolidate all my social media adventures in one place, so now I have one Facebook page, one Twitter feed, and one Pinterest account to accommodate all my pen names. This is much easier for me to manage and much easier for fans to follow.

More news soon!

 

A Vampyr Series Movie? Here’s How You Can Help.

A Vampyr Series Movie? Here’s How You Can Help.

My son recently attended DragonCon, and because he’s a good son, he sat in on a panel discussing how to turn a book into a TV series or movie. We’d been discussing this in particular with the Vampyr Series. I mean, let’s face it. Vampires make for good TV, so why not a Vampyr Series movie?

Here’s the thing. In order to do that, the most basic requirement is social credit, which translates (according to the panelists) into a minimum of 50,000 followers on one social media platform, plus great reviews on the books and so forth.

So I’m reaching out to my readers and asking each of you to follow me on Twitter, like my Facebook page, and comment on this blog post. If you haven’t already, please leave an honest review for each of the books on Amazon: The Vampire’s Pet, The Vampire’s Favorite, and The New Vampire. (Reviews at other online stores are welcome, too.) Finally, spread the word. Tell your book loving friends about the Vampyr Series and encourage them to dive into this story world. Don’t forget. The first e-book is currently available as a free download.

The Master Vampire is currently in the works, so keep an eye out for news on it. I’m also moving and updating all my websites and social media platforms, so please have patience while I rearrange everything.

Thank you all for your help!