I think we can all agree this year has been the worst. I’m not going to list all the reasons. We all know them.
For me, however, the horrors of year have been overshadowed by my father’s illness. He was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a debilitating and incurable deadly lung disease, several years ago. At that time, he was told he had a life expectancy of three to five years. Now nearly 89 years old, he’s managed to defy those odds, and we are now in year eight. During that time, he continued his work as an optometrist, only retiring this spring because the virus made it impossible for him to safely continue seeing his patients.
Because of his illness, we’ve had to be extra careful. I’m his primary caregiver alongside my mother, and we’ve been on lockdown since March 12. We go nowhere. We see no one other than medical personnel. We wear masks constantly. My hands are permanently chapped from washing/sanitizing them. His condition has continued to worsen, and as of last week, he was placed on hospice. At this point, I think it unlikely Dad will get see the world return to normal.
Every single event I was scheduled to take part in this year was either canceled, postponed until 2021, or moved online, and that makes me profoundly sad. I love travel, meeting up with friends, making new ones, getting to talk about books, and celebrating the creative life. None of that was possible this year, at least face-to-face.
I also struggled with my writing productivity this year. I have ideas. Plenty of them. I’ve got seven outlines and manuscripts in various stages of completion. But finding dedicated writing time has been elusive, and my focus was so hard to keep all year long.
However, what is happening with my Dad would have happened this year regardless, so I would likely have had to put my work life on hold anyway.
I’m not saying any of this because I think my story is somehow worse than anyone else’s. The whole world is suffering right now. We all need to be gentler with one another. This year has taken so much from all of us.
But this year has also made me learn to change my gratitude scale. It’s much easier for me to have a good day.
A good day is one in which:
And there were a few AMAZING days as well.
Along the way, I learned:
While I won’t be sad to see this year behind us, I’m grateful for where I was able to spend it and for the people I spent it with.
I’m hopeful that next year will be an improvement. I wish for joy and reasons to laugh for all of us. May you find a more peaceful and loving world awaiting you in the time to come. And though this year has been the longest ever, may you find reasons to be grateful and the strength to overcome and thrive in the future. Let’s make the world a better, safer place for ourselves and the people we love.
Best wishes to you and yours.
I sat down to talk with Rachel Steele from my local radio station, KPIP, in an interview that aired today, April 27, 2020. In it, we discussed my vampire series, The Blood Royal Saga, and my progress on writing the fourth installment, Flesh And Blood.
I also have some exciting news to share about the two books I published through Eagle Heights Press in 2019!
I’m grateful and honored to have the recognition from both the Midwest Independent Publishers Association and the Independent Book Publishers Association.
The awards ceremonies will be online this year, and I’m looking forward to those events.
In addition, Sarah Read, who wrote the foreword for Dark Conjurings won a Bram Stoker Award™️ from the Horror Writers Association this spring for her First Novel, The Bone Weaver’s Orchard. If you haven’t read it yet, you’re in for a treat. She was also nominated for a 2020 Stoker Award for her short story collection, Out of Water. Congratulations to her! It’s so well deserved.
With bookstores and libraries closed and people needing an escape while they’re stuck at home, I’m making books more accessible to help during this difficult time.
This week, The Blood Royal Saga is featured on I Love Vampire Novels.
You can find an interview with me there, plus enter to win an autographed paperback. The giveaway ends May 3, 2020 11:45 pm CDT, so hurry to enter! And while you’re there, check out their exclusive group on Facebook, sign up for their newsletter, and follow them on social media so you never miss out on great deals and book reviews.
I hope you are all staying safe. Layla and Mustang Sally and I are hanging with the family at home. I’m reminding myself daily that boredom is good because boredom means we’re all healthy and safe. There’s no emergencies. I hope the same is true for you. And if you have to work because your job is essential, THANK YOU. THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO. Please know that you’re making a difference, and we are all safer because of you.
Much love to you and yours!
The last few months have been very introspective for me. Winter always is, but this one especially for reasons that are very personal.
I’ve always suffered from Seasonal Affected Disorder. If you look at my grade cards from childhood, third quarter was always a slog with notes about missed assignments and distracted behavior. And always when spring came, I rebounded. This year, I decided to try combatting those winter blues with light therapy, and it seems to have made a difference.
Still, it’s not just short days and long nights that got me down.
My parents are getting older, and it falls to me to take over things that they used to manage themselves in the past but for one reason or another those tasks are now too difficult for them to tackle. I don’t mind doing these jobs. After all, they took care of me when I was too young to do things for myself, so it seems only right that I should return the favor. However, it makes me melancholy to see that they’re less able. They’ve always been very active and spent most of my life going from project to project with undimmed enthusiasm. They built everything from boats to houses to furniture. They approached each challenge with excitement and pride in a job well done, and if there was a skill they hadn’t yet acquired, they studied until they were able to do the work and gain mastery in the task. In the past, I had an assistant role, following their direction and guidance. And while many would say that I have grown to be a very independent woman, still I feel unready to take the lead.
In December, my father expressed a deep desire to change the color of the back room that is my parents’ den. He’s not able to do the job himself, so unless we hired someone, the work was going to be my responsibility. I wanted to do it for them. But before I could paint the walls, I needed to do some repairs to the drywall that went beyond simple spackling. One of the seams had drywall tape that had buckled and was peeling loose. In order to fix that seam, I would have to cut the old tape out and then attempt the job of plastering and taping with new joint compound. It’s a job I had watched and done with help, but I’d never attempted the work on my own before. I found the prospect daunting, and even as I began the project, I heard my inner perfectionist telling me I would never get it right, that I wasn’t skilled enough to make the seam disappear. For a couple of weeks, I was immobilized with lack of confidence, procrastinating while I watched how to videos on YouTube and worrying that I’d only make a mess of the wall.
Then I finally realized that my parents weren’t always skilled at the jobs they tackled when I was growing up. They just did the work anyway and learned as they went. I had always thought of them as the experts and felt I needed to have constant handholding because I didn’t trust my own abilities to do the job to a standard they would be proud of. But as I applied the joint compound and sanded away imperfections in my work, I realized that the only person who would see the flaws was me. I didn’t have to be perfect. I only had to do my best and do the job with love.
The room is finished now. Mom and Dad love the way it turned out, and I’m pretty happy with it too. It isn’t perfect, but neither is life. My work doesn’t have to be perfect in order for me to be proud of having done it. I learned as I worked, and next time I have to do that sort of job I’ll be better at it. More importantly, I won’t be so hesitant to try something I don’t know how to do. I just have to remember that even if I don’t know how to do it yet, I can learn, and if I fail, I have still learned something. That’s a gift my parents gave me, and it will continue to bring me joy and satisfaction each time I try something new.
No, my parents aren’t able to do all the things they used to do. But I can see now that I’m far more able to step up and take over where they left off. All this time, I thought they were teaching me skills for specific tasks. But now I realize they taught me how to be brave enough to try even when I don’t know what to do, how to learn what I need to know, and how to enjoy the end result even when I know there are imperfections.
I’m slowly emerging from my dark days as the days gradually grow longer. Getting through it means being patient and kind to myself while I am struggling. I know once the weather warms, I will feel the resurgence of energy I’ve come to know so well each spring. When I do, I bring with it the knowledge that I have the strength to take on new challenges, and long after they’re no longer here to guide me, I’ll have those experiences to look back on and help guide me on my way forward. For that lesson, I am eternally grateful.
2019 is winding down to a close, and what a wild ride it has been!
In the last 12 months, I have:
Needless to say, professionally, this year has been nothing short of fantastic!
My personal life, however, has been full of stress. My father’s health isn’t what it once was, and he needs more help to get through his days. Migraines and Meniere’s Disease have slowed me down at times throughout the year. I’ve also lost nine friends and family members over the course of this year, and those losses have been difficult at times to bear. And we had a major project on the homefront, replacing our roof. This house was built in 1892, and up until this fall, no one had ever taken off the original cedar shingles. They had simply added another course of shingles on top of the old ones. Four layers of them were weighing our house down at a staggering 9000 pounds. All that has now been removed and replaced with new decking and shingles which has been guaranteed to last at least fifty years.
I had intended to publish two more novellas for some other writers and finish and publish Flesh and Blood: Book Four of The Blood Royal Saga by the end of this year, but given the stumbling blocks I’ve faced in my personal life, those projects have to be pushed back until the spring of 2020.
However, I’m still working diligently to make sure those projects come to fruition, and I’ve got a few more surprises as well that I’ll be announcing soon.
I’m grateful beyond measure for my friends who have joined me through my joys and journeys and supported me when I needed their strength. You are truly the best, and my life is so much better because you’re in it.
I’m honored to know and work with so many inspiring and interesting writers, artists, and creative folks and to have the opportunity to learn from and grow from our interactions both in person and online. You help me continue challenging myself in new ways and remind me that I’m not alone.
I am overwhelmed by all the opportunities that came my way this year. To those of you who gave me a hand up and who made a seat at the table for me and for my work, thank you, thank you, thank you. A thousand times, thank you. Because of you, I am changed for the better.
To the teachers I’ve met along this journey, both professional and personal, thank you for helping me grow in my craft and in my life. You have helped me understand what is possible and shown me where I want to go from here.
I’m also thankful for the readers who have enjoyed my work, supported my endeavors, followed and interacted with me on social media, subscribed to my blog, reached out to tell me they liked what I’m doing, and written reviews of things I’ve written. I am truly blessed and humbled. Thank you. I love you all.
Most of all, I’m grateful for my family who have been my rock throughout this year’s ups and downs. I owe you everything.
I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving and a joyful holiday season. I hope it is filled with laughter and love and many moments of gratitude.
Wishing you all the best!
I am thrilled to announce the release of Dark Conjurings: A Short Fiction Horror Anthology! With six dark tales, this anthology has something to please every reader this Halloween.
“Six gripping tales from new voices in horror and fantasy. Each story in this collection opens a window into a world of dark imaginings where nightmares stalk and shadows linger. Within these pages, you’ll find ghosts and ghouls, monsters and magic, murder and mayhem. Enter friend, but be cautious, lest you find yourself lost in these dark conjurings.”
Foreword by Sarah Read
Edited by Delia Remington
Cover and Interior Graphics by Cassy Crownover
Table of Contents:
This is my editorial debut, and I’m thrilled and proud of the work that went into it. Each of the authors breathes new life into classic tropes, deftly subverting reader expectations and providing surprises and chills along the way. The foreword by Sarah Read is a delight, showcasing the reasons why she is such a powerhouse of insight and creativity in the genre. And the cover design and interior graphic work by Cassy Crownover gives the entire collection a thematic cohesiveness I absolutely adore.
As for my own story contribution, “The Doctor and The Lady” depicts Mary Shelley as she conducts research vital to her horrific classic creation, Frankenstein, in a story that blends historical fiction and horror.
Available to purchase online at all the usual places, including:
If you prefer face-to-face purchases, copies are available at several independent bookstores, including:
And from the several Barnes & Noble locations, including:
Last month, I had the privilege of being interviewed by Paul Pepper for his local NPR/PBS show, “Radio Friends with Paul Pepper.” Our conversation was a lot of fun, and it was a pleasure to be on the show. Here’s the video clip from the interview.
On Wed. Aug. 28 at 8:50am, you can hear my interview with Paul Pepper on Columbia, Missouri’s NPR Station, 91 FM KBIA. It’ll also be available as a podcast download (https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/radio-friends-paul-pepper/id340253562?mt=2).
Our conversation was a lot of fun, talking about my books and all things vampire.
This month has been a busy one, and I accomplished several major goals.
I published the hard cover library edition of In The Blood. I’d been working on the project for a couple of months, and after a great deal of research and hard work, it’s finally here. I’m very happy with the way the dust jacket turned out, and I’m equally proud of the interior. It’s satisfying to hold it in my hands, knowing I truly owned every piece of its production. I’m hopeful readers will like the new format.
My next project was the product of swift and concentrated effort. For the last four years, I’ve been bullet journaling, and while I enjoyed the process, I sometimes found the extra effort of doing all those monthly and weekly layouts time consuming in a way that became counter productive. After searching for alternatives, I was frustrated with the journals and planners on the market. None of them incorporated all the elements I wanted. I took all the things I loved about my bullet journal and added in some of the missing pieces I needed in order to accomplish my goals, and created a planner tool that was as close to my ideal as I thought I could manage.
Originally, I’d envisioned the book for my own private use, but as soon as I completed the design work, I knew other people would find it helpful too. I’m proud to announce the release of Soar: Indie Author Business Planner, available in paperback and hardcover. With annual planning worksheets, quarterly, monthly, and weekly business planning pages, customizable “bullet journal style” pages, and regular assessments, the book is designed to help writers stay on task and accomplish their goals.
Rachel Steele from my local public radio station KPIP interviewed me for their Local Voices segment. You can listen at the link below.
As soon as these books were completed, I began work on a dark fiction short story anthology I’m editing and plan to publish later this year. More details will be coming soon, including a title and cover art, but I’m nearly through with the first round of edits and am truly thrilled about these tales. Each one is like a little gem. I can’t wait to share the book with the world.
I have also been asked to write the forward for my friend, Brian Spielbauer‘s forthcoming book, The Battle from Concordis Publishing. It’s an honor, and as soon as details are available for the book release, I’ll share that information with you.
Book Four of The Blood Royal Saga, Flesh and Blood, is in progress. I’ll announce the release date with preorder links as soon as it’s available.
In addition, I’m working on a werewolf book which I’m very excited about, and that story may end up being yet another series. Once I’m ready to talk about that a little more, I’ll share that information.
I’ve been asked to speak at several events this year, so I had a photoshoot with Drummond Photography. This picture will appear in promotions, and I’m very pleased with the way it came out.
Details about all these events can be found at my Events Page.
“How do I get copies of your books,” you ask? All the links for ebooks and paperbacks are conveniently listed right here.
Ebooks, paperbacks, and hardcovers of all three installments in The Blood Royal Saga and copies of Soar: Indie Author Business Planner can be ordered directly from Eagle Heights Press.
If you’ve read any of my books, I’d love it if you’d take a moment to post a review on Goodreads or Amazon. Reviews help me improve and they also help other readers find the series as well.
Also, sign up for my newsletter if you haven’t done so yet. I promise no spam. Just updates on books and events. Plus, if you sign up, you’ll get a coupon good for 10% off all books in the store, including ebooks.
I’ve been recycling since the early 1990s and have made a point to buy recycled and recyclable products. We carry reusable grocery bags and keep leftovers in ceramic reusable containers instead of plastic. We don’t buy single use drinks that don’t come in glass or aluminum. We grow a lot of our own vegetables or shop at local farmer’s markets to eliminate waste and packaging. We went back to old fashioned bath soaps produced locally and packaged in paper. We’re committed to composting our food and yard waste. We buy as much food in bulk as we can to reduce packaging waste. We buy used or upcycled products and donate items we no longer need in order to reduce waste. And we recycle every possible thing we can.
However, since Chinese recycling companies stopped taking our plastics last year, I’ve made a commitment this year to work on eliminating single use plastic in every way I can.
In February, when I ran out of shampoo and conditioner, I replaced those empty bottles with bar versions from Ethique.
I bought reusable, compostable beeswax wraps to replace plastic wrap in the kitchen. I bought silicone storage bags to replace the ziplock plastic we have used in the past. I got cloth drawstring bags to take to the grocery store to use for produce instead of the plastic ones the store provides. I bought plant-based, biodegradable kitchen trash bags. And we have a small kitchen compost bin with compostable liners to make it easy to deal with fruit and vegetable scraps. These were not expensive changes to make, and the products are readily available online.
I’ve also actively been looking for skin care products that are not only ethically produced but which are packaged in glass containers with metal lids so every part of it is endlessly reusable. Those are more difficult to find, but the time is well worth spending, and the cost is comparable to other products.
But plastic is far more insidious than we consciously realize. Even if you’re making a point of seeking out foil, paper, and/or compostable packaging, it’s sometimes not obvious that plastic is being used. Nearly all processed foods are packaged with plastic either embedded in the paper wrapping or with a plastic seal over the top. Frozen foods of all kinds all use plastic, often multiple layers of it. While this is done in the name of food safety, the tradeoff is that even if China hadn’t stopped taking our plastic waste, most of this packaging plastic isn’t made to be recyclable.
It’s difficult to combat the flow of plastic that comes into our homes. But it’s difficult primarily because we don’t have alternatives that are convenient or inexpensive. Businesses don’t take eco friendly packaging into consideration for products geared at average consumers. As a result, there aren’t a lot of options on a wide range of products, unless you make a concerted effort to seek out alternatives. That requires time and effort and money many people don’t have.
Glass was once the dominant container for most items in the grocery store. Most people began buying single use plastics not because we wanted them but because companies shifted their products into that type of packaging because it was cheaper to produce and lighter to ship, leaving us with no other options. But the environmental cost of that decision has been devastating to our planet.
We can’t continue living a plastic life. Our planet is not disposable. All that plastic doesn’t just go away. It lingers for centuries. Every ketchup packet used for take out is still around, filling landfills or settling to the bottom of the ocean. We use it for thirty seconds, but it will remain unchanged, choking the life from this planet for hundreds of years into the future. Is it still convenient if it never goes away?
Change can happen, however. If manufacturers see that customers are passionately opposed to something they’re doing, particularly if they voice that opposition on social media where that complaint can gain traction, they will alter what they’re doing and cave to pressure in order to retain market competitiveness.
That’s why I’m not willing to sit back and wait for companies to change their ways on their own. I’m committing to asking about their packaging on Amazon, saying things like “Why is this product packaged in plastic rather than recyclable glass/aluminum/paper?” or “Why are there no bulk options for your product that don’t use individualized plastic wrappers which can’t be recycled?” I ask in the grocery store if they have products that don’t use plastic packaging, and voice my concerns to the store owners directly. When I see ads for products on Facebook or Twitter, and it’s obvious they’re using single use plastics, I comment beneath the post about their choice and voice my reasons why I won’t buy their product until they change their ways.
Yep. I’m that person. I’m going to keep being that person, and I won’t apologize for it. Because it matters for the future of our planet and for the survival of our entire species. I’ll keep speaking up because it’s necessary.
This strategy works. In response to consumer pressure, ALDI is removing single use plastics from the products they sell. After customers pushed for it, IKEA has announced plans to ship products in compostable protective packaging rather than styrofoam. Several cities have banned single use plastics, and the state of Maine banned single use plastic food and drink containers. More are following that trend as awareness grows.
One person changing their shopping habits isn’t going to change the world. But money talks, and if enough people voice their concerns publicly and give pushback against manufacturers so they see it’s going to hurt their bottom line for them to continue making unethical, unsustainable decisions, companies will change what they’re doing. Big corporations rely on our product loyalty, and they will change if they see that loyalty is in jeopardy.
Speak up, and help put an end to single use plastic.