Time for Giving Thanks!

2019 is winding down to a close, and what a wild ride it has been!

In the last 12 months, I have:

  • Finished setting up my new office
  • Spoken at the Boonslick Regional Library in Boonville, MO
  • Updated the covers for all three books of The Blood Royal Saga and published a library hard cover edition of Book One, In The Blood
  • Attended the Independent Book Publishers Association Conference in Chicago, IL
  • Published Soar: Indie Author Business Planner
  • Been interviewed by KPIP radio in Fayette, MO
  • Done my first professional photoshoot
  • Attended Boonville Heritage Days in Boonville, MO
  • Traveled as a special guest and speaker to the International Vampire Film and Arts Festival in Highgate, London
  • Toured Mid Continent Public Library’s Story Center in Kansas City, MO
  • Taken part in the Fayette Festival of the Arts in Fayette, MO
  • Met with readers at the Celebrate Wildwood Festival in Wildwood, MO
  • Been interviewed by Paul Pepper for KBIA radio and KMOS TV in Columbia, MO
  • Had a booth at Mid MO Pagan Pride in Columbia, MO
  • Participated in the Missouri Library Association‘s Tradeshow in Kansas City, MO
  • Edited and Published my first short story anthology, Dark Conjurings: A Short Fiction Horror Anthology, along with six of my good writer friends, including Sarah Read who wrote a fabulous forward for the book
  • Exhibited at the Twin Cities BookFest in St. Paul, MN
  • Been a special guest and speaker at the Multiverse SciFi & Fantasy Convention in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Taken part in the Daniel Boone Regional Library Local Author Event in Columbia, MO

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!

Dark Conjurings Release!

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:

  • “Foreword” by Sarah Read
  • “All That Glitters Must Die” by Jai Lefay 
  • “The Shadows Breathe” by A.R. Reinhardt 
  • “Night of the Beast” by Cassy Crownover
  • “The Doctor and The Lady” by Delia Remington
  • “The Lady In White” by Karolyne Cronin
  • “Mystick Tea” by Mimi Schweid

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:

Hardcover

Paperback

Ebook

If you prefer face-to-face purchases, copies are available at several independent bookstores, including:

And from the several Barnes & Noble locations, including:

  • Union Square, New York City
  • Zona Rosa, Kansas City, MO
  • Columbia Mall, Columbia, MO

Paul Pepper Video Interview, August 28, 2019

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.

Interview on Radio Friends with Paul Pepper

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.

June Wrap-up

This month has been a busy one, and I accomplished several major goals.

Book Releases

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.

KPIP Local Voices Interview with Rachel Steele

Upcoming Projects

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.


Summer/Fall Events

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.

  • In July, I’ll be at the International Vampire Film and Arts Festival in Highgate London.
  • During August, I’ll be at some local events – Fayette Festival of the Arts and Celebrate Wildwood.
  • September is Mid Missouri Pagan Pride in Columbia, Missouri, and then I’m off to VampCon Chicago.
  • In October, I’ll be at the Missouri Library Association annual conference in Kansas City, the Twin Cities Bookfest in St. Paul, Minnesota, and then Multiverse SciFi and Fantasy Convention in Atlanta.

Details about all these events can be found at my Events Page.


Reminders:

“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.

Unplasticing My Life

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.

Oh, The Places I’ll Go!

Saying that 2018 was eventful is a huge understatement.

My mom and I were busy traveling to local events as well as several in other parts of the country, and we even went as far as Romania to attend the International Vampire Film and Arts Festival (Some photos from these events are shown below.).

This year is shaping up to be extremely busy as well, and I’ll be on the road (and in the air) a lot. Every month has a major event planned, and I’m thrilled about all of them.

  • June 22, I’ll be in my hometown with a booth at the Boonville Heritage Days celebration. Local folks, stop by and say hi! I love this event every year, and it should be a good time.
  • July 8-16, I’m heading to London for the International Vampire Film and Arts Festival in Highgate. This year, I’m going as a tourist and to enjoy the festival. I’ll also get to spend time with friends. I’m excited to see what’s in store and to see some places I’ve only read about in books.
  • In August, a friend of mine is getting married in Tanzania, and I’m planning to attend. This one is still in the planning stages, but I’m so thrilled and honored to be included. It’ll be quite an adventure!
  • September 20-22, I’ll be a special guest at VampCon Chicago. I’ll also have a booth with books to sign, and Marie will be there for selfies too. I’m looking forward to meeting some of the people I’ve always admired and to introducing new readers to my series. It’s got a great lineup, and I can’t wait for this one!
  • October 12, I’ll be at the Twin Cities Bookfest for the third year in a row. I love this event. The organizers are wonderful, and we have met some wonderful people there year after year.

Looks like my suitcase will get a workout.

Sadly, I won’t be able to do everything I wish. I will have to leave StokerCon, Scares That Care, and my beloved Stanley Hotel Writers Retreat for 2020. There just isn’t time and money enough to go to all of the things I’m interested in. I will miss all the folks there, but I promise to be back in the future.

If you see me out at any of this year’s events, don’t be surprised if I have a notebook or laptop beside me. I’ve got several big projects happening this year too. I’m writing two books (Book Four, Flesh and Blood, comes out this fall and the other is still to be determined), producing the audiobooks of the first three novels in The Blood Royal Saga, and Eagle Heights Press will be publishing some other people’s books as well. There are a few other things in the works that I’m not quite ready to discuss yet, but I’ll be talking more about all of the above as they progress, so be on the lookout for those announcements.