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Book and Author News

Book and Author News

Lots of news this month.

First up, for those of you who weren't aware, I just released two shorter stories under my own name, C.D. Watson: A Mutual Feeling, a SciFi Romance, and Intersections, a Fantasy Romance. Both of these were intended for my collection of Weird Romances (Romancing the Weird), but were so long, I decided to publish them on their own. 

Any subscriber of either of my Lucy Varna newsletters had a chance to pick up a free short story for pre-ordering A Mutual Feeling or Intersections. "Time after Time," offered to subscribers of my SciFi Romance newsletter, is a Steampunk flavored, historical time travel Romance. "Brian," offered to my Fantasy/Paranormal Romance newsletter subscribers, is about a young woman who encounters a series of bizarre coincidences in the men she meets. If you pre-ordered A Mutual Feeling and/or Intersections and haven't yet claimed your free short story, shoot me an email at lucy@lucyvarna.com with your pre-order receipt attached and I'll email your story to you. 

For those of you who didn't pre-order either of my newest stories and thus missed a chance at picking up the short stories, never fear. "Time after Time" will be published in Romancing the Weird. "Brian" has been sent off to a small press for inclusion in an anthology. If it's not picked up there, it will also be included in Romancing the Weird.

The audiobook edition of Cemetery Hill (Sunshine Walkingstick, Book 3), written under Celia Roman, is now available at Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. Rebecca Winder, the narrator, did a great job with it, as usual. Some of the parts are just downright creepy, thanks to her narration, which is exactly what I intended.

Rebecca also narrated the audiobook edition of Intersections, which will be out soon, and will begin narrating Dreaming of a Dark Christmas as soon as her schedule clears. I feel so fortunate to be working with such a talented voice actor, and an all around nice person to boot.

Don't forget to pre-order Dreaming of a Dark Christmas, which will be out on December 15th. In case you missed it, here's the post discussing the creation of my first short story collection, as well as the individual stories. I had a great time pulling the stories together and hope y'all enjoy these darker glimpses into three of my series, plus a brand new, non-series-affiliated story.

Speaking of short stories...

Around the first of October, I set a mini-challenge for myself to complete fifteen short stories between October 1st and November 30th. Unfortunately, I ran into a couple of crises, including my editor falling ill and needing some extra support and help. No worries! He's mostly better now, or at least he's riding his bicycle again, so that's good.

I did manage to finish five stories, three for the Christmas collection and two for Romancing the Weird. I worked on several more and may finish another couple by the end of this month, so I count the challenge a win even if it wasn't completely successful.

In an effort to prioritize my time and run a more efficient business, I've temporarily (probably) moved the ebook editions of all my Lucy Varna titles exclusively to Amazon. This should reduce the amount of time I need to spend on things like digital file and online retailer maintenance.

I've also decided to hold off on doing any more GoodReads giveaways for a while. Don't get me wrong. I love giving books away, but my time is really limited during the holiday season. Hopefully those can resume sometime after the new year.

The next release after Dreaming of a Dark Christmas will be The Gathering Storm (Daughters of the People, Book 6), written under Lucy Varna. I still haven't set an exact release date yet, but it will probably be published on the last Friday of the month. Yes, The Gathering Storm will definitely be released in January, even if I have to walk to Seattle and hand the finalized manuscript in at Amazon myself.

Redemption (Daughters of the People, Book 6.5) was supposed to be the next (novel) release after that. I'm working on it, yes. The first scene is done and the story itself is about halfway developed. 

Remember my post, "Rediscovering the Joy," in which I recounted some of my struggles to write over the past couple of years and how hard I've been working to get my writing back on track? 

Yeah, I'm still working on that.

One of the major problems that caused such a hard break in my writing process, and subsequently lead to a less productive schedule with fewer books being released, was my switch to a firm publication schedule, away from a system where I published a new novel roughly every other month without long-term planning as to which books would be published when.

For some idiotic reason, I'm having a hard time sloughing that mindset off and re-embracing my old outlook: Write what moves me, publish frequently, publish what's ready. The latter worked very well for me. This new way? Not so much. 

Unfortunately, I've also fallen into a habit of saying that I'm going to work on XYZ story next. Every time I write one of these posts, I sincerely mean to not do that, and every time, I completely forget and tell y'all this story or that one is underway.

The truth is that what I'm working on, what moves me, constantly changes. And that works for me. I love being able to switch between story worlds, and when I do, my creative juices run high and I'm able to consistently write well and often. Which, of course, translates into more stories for readers.

So, once The Gathering Storm is off my plate, I'm going to work hard on remembering what worked for me and forgetting what doesn't. No, scratch that. I'm already doing it. Tonight, I've worked on a story about Fate Hunter (a minor character in Alien Mine) and will likely write a scene in "Red," a dark and twisted short story. Yes, I'll also work on The Gathering Storm and probably Redemption, too, but I've found that if I don't work on stories that excite me, I can't write.

I know this is frustrating for readers who really want me to pinpoint when a story is going to be released. Please trust my process. Remember, the easier it is for me to write, the quicker you'll get the stories you really want, plus a few surprises along the way. All will work out, I promise. At least two series will be finished in 2018, three if I have my way, and I may throw one or two of those surprises at you in between. Stay tuned. The fun is just beginning.

Dreaming of a Dark Christmas

Dreaming of a Dark Christmas

I’ve finally finished all four stories in my “secret” project, a collection of dark Christmas stories which will be published under each of my writing names, Lucy Varna, V.R. Cumming, Celia Roman, and C.D. Watson, one story per name.

I conceived of this idea after stumbling across information on chapbooks, and had thought to produce four super short stories and have them published either individually or collectively as a chapbook. Now traditionally, chapbooks are rather small in size and length, so I planned to tell four complete dark holiday stories in under 1500 words each.

Ha, yes. It’s ok to laugh. Those of you who know me know very well that I write until the story is done, and sometimes that’s a lot longer word-count wise than I expected. Case in point: While developing A Mutual Feeling, I thought it would be no more than 7500 words long. The finished story weighs in at a respectable 19,117 words, a far cry from my original estimate.

So here I had this lovely idea, a short story collection featuring a tale told by each of my separate writing personas, and it was rapidly growing too cumbersome for its original medium. I do love my pivots, y’all. The easiest (and savviest) thing to do was continue with the project and simply publish it as I normally would. The result is my first holiday collection, Dreaming of a Dark Christmas.

Dreaming of a Dark Christmas

The entire project is mine from start to finish, with two lovely exceptions. I did the cover, wrote the introduction and the stories, formatted the digital and print editions, and am slowly creating pages for the book on each of my pertinent websites. The first exception is, of course, Richard, my editor, who so far loves each of the stories. He’s about to read through the fourth and final one, and hopefully will love it just as much as the other three.

The second exception is Rebecca Winder, narrator of the Sunshine Walkingstick Series and, when I get it proofed, Intersections. I just handed the three finished stories over to her to narrate in between her other projects. She has a great voice and is awesome to work with, so I’m very much looking forward to her finished product.

As to the stories themselves, I developed each one around a particular day of the holiday season. That’s how the stories got their names, and it’s why they’re ordered the way they are, by the date of the holiday rather than the year in which the story takes place. There’s quite a range here, too, from the American Civil War (“Christmas Eve Gift”) all the way up to the modern day (“On the 7th Day of Christmas”).

Here’s a quick peek at each of the stories, given here in the order in which they’ll appear within the collection.

“Christmas Eve Gift” by C.D. Watson

The story I published under my own name was originally going to be an historic Krampus tale co-written with my son. Alas, his free time is so rare, we simply couldn’t coordinate enough collaboration time to finish that story.

Instead, I took a tradition from my own family, moved it back in time a century and a half, fictionalized a local character by the name of Old Bill (a woman, by the way), and twisted the story a little to suit the collection’s mood.

The result is the only story in the collection to meet my original word count criteria of being less than 1500 words in length. Fitting then that it should go first.

In “Christmas Eve Gift,” Old Bill is on her way to her niece Sally’s house to play a traditional Christmas Eve prank on Sally and her family when she encounters an unexpected darkness. I had a lot of fun writing Old Bill, and hope to share her with you again in future stories.

“A Dark Christmas” by V.R. Cumming

One of the hardest things about writing a series is not being able to share all the really interesting back stories of secondary characters. Readers of The Vampyr Series should be familiar with Alice, Eric’s creche mate and a full-fledged vampire, and Gregory, Jason’s teammate and friend.

The New Vampire contains some fairly heavy hints that Alice is uneasy about Eric throwing her together with Gregory because of something that happened in Gregory’s past. I’ve wanted to tell that story for so long, it’s been difficult not to blurt out what really happened.

Guess what? Now I don’t have to. “A Dark Christmas” is the beginning of Alice and Gregory’s story, but it’s not what you think. In fact, this one may surprise the heck out of you. For those unfamiliar with the story world, don’t worry. “A Dark Christmas” is easily understood without having read a single word in The Vampyr Series.

“On the 7th Day of Christmas” by Celia Roman

If you’ve been following along in the Sunshine Walkingstick Series, then you’ve probably been waiting for Sunny and David to have their party. It finally happens on a very special night, New Year’s Eve.

That’s the seventh day of Christmas, if you were wondering. Yes, I had to look it up, too, but research is the fun part of being a writer. That and the chocolate. Oh, the lovely, dreamy, melt in your mouth chocolate. Yum.

Ahem.

Anyway, on the seventh day of Christmas Sunny encounters a monster that she doesn’t have to kill, but the whys of that are clues to the next story in the series. As with Alice’s story, “On the 7th Day of Christmas” was designed for every reader whether familiar with Sunny’s world or not.

“Twelfth Night” by Lucy Varna

Finally, a short story from the Daughters of the People Series. “Twelfth Night” jumps back in time to the night Lukas Alexiou turns thirteen. This is also the beginning of his relationship with the Woman with No Face, which is no coincidence at all.

As with “A Dark Christmas,” I’ve been wanting to recount this particular encounter for a long time. When I first conceived of the idea for a dark holiday collection, it seemed like a no-brainer to include the night when Lukas must decide where his destiny lies, under his father’s heel, or in the future promised to him by a mysterious, ageless assassin.

Again, this one can be understood without having read the Daughters of the People Series. If you’re a fan of the series, definitely don’t skip “Twelfth Night” as it is a nice companion to some of the events in the final three books of the series.

Dreaming of a Dark Christmas

I had a lot of fun with the four stories in Dreaming of a Dark Christmas, from brainstorming to writing to preparing them for publication, and on 15 December 2017, you can have some fun with them, too, as that’s when the collection will be released. You can preorder it now at Amazon, or wait until I announce it through one of my newsletters. Either way, you won’t want to miss these dark tales of Christmases past and present.

Book and Author News

Book and Author News

Not too much to report this month, but some interesting stuff nonetheless.

The Contests, Giveaways, and Sales page has a new format. I'm going to try to keep this updated a little better, but here's where you'll find information on upcoming and ongoing events, other than new releases, which have been added to the right-hand side of the page. 

Cemetery Hill, the third Sunshine Walkingstick novel, was released on 13 October. I'm happy to have this one out at long last. I love Sunny and her world, but it's difficult to write in. No idea if or when any other full-length novels will be released in this series, but keep reading for news on a possible anthology containing a short story.

I haven't set a specific release date for The Gathering Storm yet. It's still being released in January 2018, probably after the middle of the month, which is generally when I release titles. I'll have a more specific date as soon as I finish the first draft. That should be soon. I'm in the middle of some of the more climactic scenes near the end of the book, and expect to have no more than 10-15 scenes left, most of which have been planned out.

I wrote a brief blog post containing cover reveals for the final two books in the series, plus the final book in the Pruxnae Series, about a month ago on the Lucy Varna blog. Here are the covers, because wow, are they good. I'm so excited to finally be able to share them!

That blog post also contained possible release dates for Redemption (Daughters of the People, Book 6.5) and War's Last Refuge (Daughters of the People, Book 7). I'm fairly certain, but not entirely positive, that Redemption will be released in March rather than February, and War's Last Refuge in April or May, depending on how long it takes me to write it. I expect the final book of the series to be longer than the rest, so it could take much longer to write. There's just a lot going on in that story, as it wraps up not just the series, but also the story of the People.

After I finish writing the Daughters of the People Series, my current plan is to work on The Master Vampire, the final novel in the Vampyr Series (V.R. Cumming), and then tackle Sweet Surrender. I know readers are chomping at the bit for Eric's story. I had planned on releasing it and Sweet Surrender this year, but couldn't due to some personal issues. 

A reader asked if there will be more Sons of the People novels. My tentative answer is yes. The series was supposed to span four novels interspersed among other novels of the People (explained in the linked blog post). I would very much like to tackle Ruby and Jordan's story as the next Sons of the People novel, and have begun developing it. (Yes, we will see more of Lali, and probably Petey, too.) 

That said, I've been considering a shift in what I write for a couple of years now, from romantic fiction to "straight" (non-romantic) fiction, particularly in the Speculative Fiction genres (Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Weird Fiction). When I set my schedule for the next couple of years, always a tentative process that's continually being revised, I completely forgot to include stories for that new direction. Hey, I was super excited to finally jot down all the stories I've been dying to write beyond the ones already promised!

I'll be revising my schedule again soon, and will include the new stories there. I had planned to publish those stories, along with short stories, under the name Isobel Fletcher, but after much consideration, I said screw it and am publishing them under my own name instead. Publishing under pen names is tiring, and feels less than honest to me, even though it's not. In fact, it's a time honored tradition. 

Still, I'm oddly happy for the change. I took a couple of days to rearrange the websites to reflect the change, and hope to have the Romancing the Weird anthology published in the first quarter of 2018.

Speaking of anthologies, I've been working on a secret project for a few months now, a Christmas anthology containing a short story written under each of my names, Lucy Varna, Celia Roman, V.R. Cumming, and (of course) C.D. Watson. Two of the stories are finished. "Twelfth Night" by Lucy Varna is written from the perspective of a young Lukas Alexiou, and details his first encounter with the Woman with No Face. "On the 7th Day of Christmas" by Celia Roman takes place on New Year's Eve at the party David and Sunny cooked up. Yes, they're finally having it! 

I'm in the middle of writing a V.R. Cumming (non-sexual) short story told from the perspective of Eric's creche-mate, Alice, tentatively titled "Dreaming of a Dark Christmas." The final story will be written under my own name and will possibly involve Krampus, but don't get too excited. That one's only tentative at this point.

If I can get all the stories written, then the anthology will go out in December. I'll have more news on it soon, including a cover reveal. Hopefully fans of the series will enjoy the stories.

That's it for now. Happy fall, y'all!

Book and Author News

Book and Author News

Lots of news this month, particularly concerning the Sunshine Walkingstick Series published under Celia Roman, one of my pen names.

First up, the free stuff. I have three GoodReads giveaways going on right now, each ending on 30 August 2017. Three paperback copies of each title are up for grabs to US residents, so hop on over and enter: Greenwood Cove (Sunshine Walkingstick, Book 1) by Celia Roman; Alien Mine (The Pruxnae Series, Book 3) by Lucy Varna; and The Vampire's Favorite (The Vampyr Series, Book 2) by V.R. Cumming. Good luck!

Cemetery Hill, the third novel in the Sunshine Walkingstick Series, is almost here. I'm so excited to finish this one, as it's a doozy in a lot of ways. The official release date is 13 October 2017, a perfect date considering the creep factor. In fact, I moved the release date for that very reason.

Cemetery Hill is available for preorder now, or if you'd rather wait, just keep an eye out here, on Facebook, or in the Celia Roman newsletter and I'll let you know when it's available for sale. 

I've already contracted out the audio edition, and yes, the lovely Rebecca Winder will be narrating it.

Speaking of audiobooks, the audio edition of The Deep Wood (Sunshine Walkingstick, Book 2) is finally here. It's available on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes

I've also released the audio edition of Death Omen (A Sunshine Walkingstick Short Story), which Rebecca kindly narrated for me. Since I couldn't ever get my mailing list provider to cooperate so I could make it available for newsletter subscribers, I finally put it up for sale. It's available at Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. While the digital edition of Death Omen is still free to newsletter subscribers, other readers can now purchase either the ebook or paperback editions at their leisure.

After Cemetery Hill is released in October (with the audiobook following probably in November), I likely will not have news on the Sunshine Walkingstick Series for a good, long while. For one, I want to catch up with my other series, but for another, Sunny has worn me out. (I talked about that a little in my last news update.) It's possible that I may never write in the series world again outside of short stories, but saying so for certain would be unwise. I have been known to get a wild hair every once in a while and write something unplanned. That's how we got Sunny in the first place!

Speaking of wild hairs and unplanned stories, I'm (very tentatively) working on a surprise for all my readers, regardless of which pen name one prefers. Keep your fingers crossed, as it should be an interesting surprise, if I can squeeze in the time to work on it.

Remember "Intersections," the first story for the Romancing the Weird anthology? Well, I finally finished it and did indeed release it to newsletter subscribers this past July. I'm working on the next two stories for the anthology, one of which is already mentioned on the book's page. It's a tossup as to which story I'll finish first, but one of them should be released soon.

So far, I have about eight stories I hope to include in Romancing the Weird. Whether all of them make the cut or not is another thing!

Now that Sunny's first three books are mostly out of the way (we still have some editing to do before the official release date), I've turned my attention to the next story on my list, The Gathering Storm, which is officially Book 6 in the Daughters of the People Series, but is in reality the seventh book. 

The series was originally supposed to have seven books, a symbolic reflection of the Seven Sisters. When Tempered came along, I slid it in between Books 3 and 4 (The Enemy Within and In All Things, Balance) as Book 3.5, which has confused the dickens out of readers. Yes, you should read Tempered between those two! Then I had such a blast writing from India's point of view, I added another .5, bringing the entire number of novels in the series to nine. Unplanned stories seem to be a thing for me, but that usually works out to everyone's benefit, so I'm not complaining.

Anyway, as part of my preparation for diving back into writing in this series, I've been re-reading the books, beginning with The Prophecy. If you haven't already, you can read some of my thoughts on revisiting the series here.

Yes, this is my first series, but even if it weren't, it would be my favorite. The story world is so deep, and it draws from areas in which I have personal experience, including genealogy, history, and archaeology. Plus, I really enjoy the variety of characters and situations. Every story is fresh and new, and allows me to bring in different aspects of life every single time. I had no idea, for instance, how much of my personal beliefs slipped into the stories until the current re-read.

Since I'm slowly re-immersing myself in the world of the People, I may go ahead and write the final two books in the series after completing the first draft for The Gathering Storm, if my momentum holds. Redemption, officially Book 6.5, will jump back a little in time and pick up not long after Bobby Upton's kidnapping. Those who enjoyed seeing peeks of India Furia and her budding romance with Hiro Okada, one of Bobby's BFFs, will absolutely love Redemption, as it will feature the contrarian Daughter and the former Delta Force Operator.

The couple featured in the final book, War's Last Refuge, is a surprise I've been holding onto from the beginning. Alas, all good things must end. The big reveal happens in The Gathering Storm; by the end of Sigrid and Will's tale, readers should have a good idea of which characters will take the lead in the series finale. 

I know my slower writing schedule is frustrating to some readers, but I am working steadily on the first draft for The Gathering Storm. No promises on a release date yet, but I'm well aware that it's been two years since Sanctuary's release. I absolutely, positively, beyond any doubt did not mean to leave readers hanging that long. Hopefully, I can make it up to you by providing a solid finish to the series in the last three books. If I have my way (and since I'm the writer, there's a pretty good chance of that), I'll be writing and releasing many more books in this story world over the coming decades. 

Speaking of extra stories, Say Yes, the first Sons of the People novel, was one of those unplanned surprises. I just finished re-reading it, and have to say, Petey's epilogue had me a little teary eyed.

I hardly ever do sales on Say Yes, since it's sort of hanging out there on its own until I get more stories in the series done, but it's been a while since its release, so it's time. Right now, you can pick up Say Yes for free at Kobo, or for $.99 or the equivalent at Amazon. Those prices are good for a very short, very limited time. Since the regular retail price is $4.99, go get your copy now and enjoy it while beach reading season is still upon us here in the northern hemisphere.

I wrote a blog post for authors called "How Much Is Your Writing Really Worth?" that somewhat briefly discusses placing a real dollar value on your work, if only so you'll have a goal to shoot for. I haven't written much for that blog over the past few months because the posts generally take a lot of work. Right now, I'd rather focus on writing fiction, which is where I make my livelihood.

That said, I'm slowly beginning work on a pet project, Alternate Realms Magazine, which will eventually feature original short stories in a quarterly format, supplemented by articles and reviews on the website. The focus there will be on short fiction created by indie and hybrid authors, as well as unpublished writers and freelancers. Getting the magazine started (and it will be a magazine) will likely take a lot of elbow grease, but I believe in the project and hope to attract readers and writers to it in a slow and incremental fashion.

That's all my news for now. Don't forget to enter the GoodReads giveaways and pick up Say Yes while it's on sale. 

Book and Author News

Book and Author News

It's been a crazy hectic month here. Lots going on, which translates to lots of book news, starting with brand new audiobooks.

As promised, Rebecca Winder finished narrating "Death Omen" (the Sunshine Walkingstick short story available exclusively to newsletter subscribers) and it is absolutely awesome. Rebecca has a smooth, pleasant speaking voice and does an incredible job rendering Sunny's deep woods accent. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the audio version to upload to my mailing list host. Until I decide what to do with it, anyone subscribed to the Celia Roman newsletter who wants a copy can email me (celia@celiaroman.com) with a request.

The Deep Wood by Celia Roman, available in audiobook format.

Rebecca should also soon be turning in the audio files for The Deep Wood, the second Sunshine Walkingstick novel. It will take me about ten to fourteen days to review them, plus another ten to fourteen days for ACX to do a quality control check, so look for the finalized audiobook to be available to listeners around the end of July or possibly the first of August.

If you haven't listened to Greenwood Cove yet and would like to try it, simply email me and I'll send you a download code. I only have a few left, so if you're interested, email me as soon as you can. So far, most of the people who've heard it have enjoyed it. It's hard not to with a narrator as great as Rebecca!

Work is progressing slowly but steadily on the third (and possibly final) novel in the Sunshine Walkingstick series, Cemetery Hill. I hit a point where the story felt unwieldy. When I laid out my plot cards and gave them a good "look see," as Sunny would say, I realized why: There was too much going on in the story; I had too much planned.

So I cut a few things, moved a few others to the (potential) next book, and rearranged the timeline for what was left. I'm now about 35,000 words into what should be a 55,000 to 60,000 word story. I sincerely hope to have the first draft finished in the next couple of weeks, after which I will do a light edit myself, then send it off to my editor. I'm aiming for an August release, but it may be September by the time Cemetery Hill makes it through the editorial process and is ready for readers.

As to other novels in the series, if a fourth book is published, then there will also be a fifth (and possibly a sixth) as a major turning point happens in the fourth book that will need to be resolved in a subsequent one.

Cemetery Hill by Celia Roman

I'm not sure yet if I want to write two to three more novels in this series. Sunny is incredibly difficult to write. While some critics call her a stereotype, I assure you she's not; I grew up around many, many people like her, including members of my own family. Even still, writing the local dialect is time consuming in a way that writing more standard English, even when slang is included, is not. If you're interested in seeing the series continue, shoot me an email and let me know. Sometimes, knowing that readers really love a series helps me decide which direction I want to take. 

The Gathering Storm by Lucy Varna

Regardless of what I decide to do with the Sunshine Walkingstick Series, the next book on my list to write is The Gathering Storm, officially book six of the Daughters of the People Series. It's been almost two years since the release of Sanctuary, the last installment, and readers are chomping at the bit for more. 

I am, too, to be honest. The Prophecy, the series' starter, was my first novel and a culmination of a lifelong dream to write fiction, and so, the story world is very dear to me. 

To prepare for working on The Gathering Storm, I'm reading The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science that Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry by Bryan Sykes. If that isn't a big clue as to part of what's going to happen in The Gathering Storm, I don't know what is!

On the short story front, I turned "Intersections," the first story in the Romancing the Weird anthology (written under the name Isobel Fletcher), in to my editor last week. What I thought was going to be a 3000 to 5000 word story ended up being a whopping 10,000 words. Normally, Richard reads each story as it's written, but with this one, I waited until the first draft was finished before turning it in. He contacted me a couple of days later and told me parts of it confused him.

Back to the drawing board. Hey, folks. This is why writers have editors.

He's going over "Intersections" a second time before he turns it back over to me. There may be a little more back and forth, but I'm looking to release this one to newsletter subscribers in July. 

In the meantime, I finished a second short story titled "Such a Good Wife" that I have started sending out to short story magazines. Selling to a magazine is a much slower process than releasing self-published titles. It's also something of an experiment for me. I've never tried to publish fiction through more traditional routes, so we'll see how this goes. 

While brainstorming what to include in this post, I realized it had been a good, long while since I'd done anything with the Cullowhee Heritage Series, released under my first pen name, Lucy Varna. A Higher Purpose, the first entry in the series, was my first novella. 

It was also my first fail as a writer. I completely missed the mark with readers on this one, and fully intended to rectify that by revising it and releasing a second edition. After completing second editions of my first two novels, however, I simply had no energy left for the kind of intensive revisions A Higher Purpose needed, so I put it on the back burner, fully intending to come back to it as soon as I could.

A Higher Purpose by Lucy Varna

As soon as I could turned out to be longer than I expected by about eighteen months. I've added revisions for A Higher Purpose to my schedule and will try to slowly work on it over the next few months. Until then, I'm gearing up for a big sale on its successor, A Wicked Love, which can be read as a stand alone. Not sure if I'll announce the sale here or not, but if you're a newsletter subscriber or follow me on Facebook, you'll get a notice. 

The Cullowhee Heritage Series was supposed to be four stories long, one focusing on a different descendant of the same witch. After the poor reception the series received from readers, I decided to drop it, simply because I had other stories readers enjoyed more. I may revive the series at a later date, but don't hold your breath (that includes you, Aunt Liz) as I haven't set my writing schedule beyond the stories I've already committed to finishing, which are: Cemetery Hill; The Gathering Storm, Redemption, and War's Last Refuge (the final novels in the Daughters of the People Series); The Master Vampire (the final novel in the Vampyr Series); Sweet Surrender (the final novel in the Pruxnae Series); and the stories for the Romancing the Weird anthology.

Notice a pattern? Yup, I'm finishing a lot of series up before I commit to anything else. Ideally, I'd like to finish all those stories by the end of 2017, but I'm not counting on it as I have a lot of other items on my plate at the moment.

For example, I'm getting the house ready for an influx of visitors for August's solar eclipse. As it happens, my house sits within the band of the full shadow, so we'll have a front row seat to the event of the year. It should be an interesting show!

Book and Author News

Book and Author News

I'm very close to releasing my first story under Isobel Fletcher, a new pen name which will focus on stories falling under the Speculative Fiction umbrella.

Romancing the Weird by Isobel Fletcher

The first story will be part of an anthology called Romancing the Weird, which will be available exclusively to newsletter subscribers. I've planned five stories for the collection, although there will probably be more. Each story will be released as it becomes available, but again, only to newsletter subscribers.

Romancing the Weird is part of my long-term plan to ease out of writing romantic fiction into fiction in which a love story is not the central plot. Some of the stories in RtW end with a Happy Ever After, but some may not. Each, however, will have a strong romantic subplot.

I'm kicking the Isobel Fletcher pen name off in a very gradual manner, since I'm working around phasing out my other pen names. One of the things I'm trying to do for Izzy is get back into blogging, which I have dearly missed over the past eighteen months or so as I rearranged my priorities and focus.

As part of that, I'm planning a roundup sort of post that I'll do every one to four weeks, depending on what kind of material I can find to include within it. My first post of that sort ended with a discussion of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and women's rights in the US. 

I'm really excited about writing under the Isobel Fletcher name and hope to have a growing number of news items about that work over the next couple of years as I slowly morph from a Romance writer into a SpecFic writer.

Speaking of short stories, I just completed one for readers of the Sunshine Walkingstick Series, written under the name Celia Roman. "Death Omen" predates Greenwood Cove by a year or so, and takes place on a MARTA train traveling through the Greater Atlanta area, making it a true Urban Fantasy. 

Like the stories written for Romancing the Weird, "Death Omen" is currently exclusive to newsletter subscribers. I've already released it to existing subscribers, and the feedback has been quite positive.

Work on the third book in the Sunshine Walkingstick Series was interrupted by the RT Booklovers Convention, which I attended earlier this month, but it is coming soon. In the meantime, readers of the series will be pleased to hear that the audio edition of Greenwood Cove is almost in stores. The narrator, Rebecca Winder, is doing such a fantastic job with the series that before I'd even finished reviewing Greenwood Cove, I asked her to narrate The Deep Wood. She agreed and is already hard at work on the latter.

Additionally, I asked her to do an audio version of "Death Omen" for newsletter subscribers. It should be available soon. I cannot wait until y'all hear her rendition of Sunny!

In other news, L.J. Anderson of Mayhem Cover Creations has finished crafting the final two covers for the Daughters of the People Series, Redemption and War's Last Refuge. The next book out (technically Book 6, but, in reality, the seventh book) is The Gathering Storm. I have lots of surprises planned for these final three books. Some of them will completely turn readers' notions of the series upside down, so stay tuned.

I will likely post a deeper discussion of my time at the RT Booklovers Convention at a later date. It was such a hectic week, I lost track of all the people and events. But, it was a great time, I made a lot of connections, and I walked away with a ton of ideas on everything from story creation to marketing to connecting with readers. Keep an eye on my Facebook page, where I hope to at least do an occasional shout out to some of the authors I met. 

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.

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
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!