Columbia River Gorge photo by Lorena Angell
I live in a stunningly beautiful location--The Cascade Mountain Range. To the left, out of frame and miles away, sits Mount St. Helen's volcano. To the right just out of view is Mt. Hood volcano. Carving a mile wide swath through this mountain range is the Columbia River. This shot is taken from the Cape Horn overlook in Washington, looking upriver to the east. The river is roughly a mile wide. On a clear day we can see Bonneville Dam way up at the end of the gorge. A little closer to us on the Oregon side--right side of the photo--is Multnomah Falls. The knobby mountain nearly touching the clouds on the left is Archer Mountain. My home sits along the river, on this side of Archer mountain. The view is majestic, to say the least.
Life Changes on a Dime
Sunday morning, Sept. 3rd, 2017, I awakened to a copper-colored sun peaking through the trees. I went outside to get a better look. My husband noticed ash falling from the sky. We immediately turned on the news to find Eagle Creek Trail, across the Columbia twelve miles to the east near Bonneville Dam, had a small forest fire. The result of a carefree teen and a firework--a smoke bomb--according to reports.
We haven't had a decent amount of rain in our area since June so everything is brittle dry. This dry weather pattern happens every year. It's part of what makes the area desirable for hiking and camping. Each year a burn ban on some level goes into effect from July to the end of September. A couple years ago a small fire broke out east of our place. The fire crews and a helicopter were brought in and they effectively fought the fire, extinguishing it in no time. To hear Eagle Creek Trail was on fire was both alarming and saddening. I've hiked Eagle Creek. I've been to Punch Bowl Falls and seen the beauty. Now it was burning. Hopefully the firefighters were on top of the blaze.
As we listened to the news, we heard that over 150 hikers were stranded mid-hike, blocked in by the fire, forced to hike further up the trail and shelter in place overnight. Supplies were air dropped for them--food and water. Most hadn't planned on anything more than a couple hours of hiking and swimming at Punch Bowl Falls. They weren't dressed or prepared for an overnight in the Cascades. What a scary ordeal!
The town Cascade Locks, Oregon, had evacuations ordered for certain parts and the Red Cross set up shelter across the river in Stevenson, WA. Dramatic photos and footage of the roaring fire started coming in and Oregon Department of Transportation considered closing I-84, mainly because of all the travelers stopping on the side of the road to take pictures. On top of that, the weather forecast looked ominous. The winds were about to change on Monday night and come from the east. New evacuations were listed for small communities to the west of Eagle Creek Trail.
Monday ticked by slowly as we waited to see how gusty the winds would be. The fire had already doubled in size overnight and debris was falling from the sky: charred pine needles, small twigs, large pieces of ash. The fire was spreading west. Late in the day Monday, ODOT closed I-84.
Charred pine needles fell from the sky, captured in the kale.
Before I went to bed at 12:30 am Tuesday morning I looked out the window to the east and saw orange dots shining through the night--flame. I woke my husband up and told him the flames were visible and we should go outside and see them. It was kind of exciting, in a way, probably because in my mind I was thinking these flames were still twelve miles away, so we're safe.
This is what we saw.
Eagle Creek Fire photo by Lorena Angell
Clearly the fire was racing through the gorge a whole lot faster than anyone anticipated. The winds gusted about 35 mph from the east and as we watched, small dots of light would peer through the darkness to the right of the rapidly advancing fire line.
Eagle Creek Fire photo by Lorena Angell
Over the next two hours, we watched in horror as the Eagle Creek Fire raced west on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge fueled by high east winds. We woke up the kids so they could see the fire, and also so they could help us round up belongings in the likelihood we'd need to evacuate.
Eagle Creek Fire photo by Lorena Angell
The whole horizon blazed. Wind gusts whipped by causing the fire to brighten intensely, enough to cast shadows from the bushes and trees in our yard. We could feel the heat in the air even though the mountainside was over a mile away across the river. Many vehicles traveled up and down our road during this frightening fire storm. With each one I'd wonder if it was the sheriff coming to tell us to evacuate. No. These were probably locals checking things out, trying to decide if they should evacuate. I knew a little further down our road was a better place to view the other side of the river, so Larry and I drove down there.
Eagle Creek Fire burns at Angel's Rest. Photo by Lorena Angell
We didn't know at that time an ember had traveled all the way across the river and started the Archer Mountain on fire to the immediate northeast of us. At 6:45 am we learned level 3 evacuations had been ordered for the area as far reaching as one mile from our house. The wind was still coming from the east, and given how fast the fire raged only a couple hours earlier, we didn't hesitate evacuating before the fire torched the parched forest between us. We grabbed essentials, irreplaceable items, 2/3's of our cats (one of our three cats wouldn't come out from under the deck), and loaded our cars and left.
We headed to my sister's boyfriend's house in Portland where our cats would be safe inside their garage and we could take a breath and tune into the news. The next twenty-four hours dragged on as we monitored the new evacuations listed for the Corbett and Troutdale area at the west end of the gorge. The fire was zero percent contained, however, the winds were projected to switch once again and blow to the east.
Good is Relative
As predicted, the winds shifted directions and evacuation levels were reduced to 2's and 1's. We were able to return home the next afternoon. The stubborn cat was just fine, as was our home. But not everyone was as fortunate. At the time of writing this, four homes have burned. The fight against the fire is ongoing. I-84 is still closed after nine days with a few thousand trees that need to be felled and removed to make the interstate corridor safe for travelers. It's predicted the Eagle Creek fire, along with most of the other Pacific Northwest fires will burn until the rains come in October.
I've received many well wishes and expressions of relief that my family was spared disaster. I'm relieved we didn't lose our housing or possessions, that's for sure. However, once the winds changed direction, bringing good luck to me and everyone else west of the fire, the residents to the east were now under evacuation alerts. What was good for us was not good for them, and I became sensitive to the otherwise positive well-wishers saying how happy they were the fire was heading away from me.
Sometimes I think it's hard to know what to say to someone who's going through a hard time. I know I struggle with words. After going through this ordeal I've become aware--and have a greater understanding--of what people go through in these situations. It's terrifying. It's exhausting. It's relieving (in our case) to come home and find everything okay, but guilt-inducing to know other people are suffering with loss. Realizing my family could have had a way-different outcome has made me mindful and more compassionate of my fellow human beings.
View after the fire.
I feel I've been jolted awake with awareness. Something about witnessing a massive firestorm and fearing for your safety kind of does that to you. I'm much more mindful of what's important in my life. This became evident as I gleaned over the contents of my house deciding what to take with me. My first thought was getting us out. If nothing else, we as a family would leave. Then the focus was on grabbing scrapbooks and computer hard drives, anything that had irreplaceable photos or content. Also important documents. Then medications, phone chargers, a quick cupboard raid of non-perishable food, cat supplies, change of clothes. That was pretty much it.
One thing's for sure, throughout all of this I've realized how unprepared I am for a disaster. I'll be gathering a few things that will permanently remain in my car, like a flashlight, first aid kit, and water. I'll be loading up a tote that is easier to grab all at once, holding precious memories and important documents. Along with this preparation comes having my kids identify their most treasured possessions and putting them in an easy to grab location. I don't want to find myself in the same position again, feeling scared for my life with a gnawing urgency to leave, yet stuck in a mental debate over what "things" I should take the time to grab, wondering if the extra few seconds will be the difference of life or death.
My heart goes out to everyone who is in limbo right now due to circumstances out of their control. As one of my lead characters says in my books, "We as humans naturally want to relieve suffering and avoid pain." Helping others through life's troubles brings joy. So let's get out there and spread a bunch of JOY!
The easiest way to help is to donate money to the Red Cross or a reputable charity fund.
What is your disaster plan? Do you have a "GO" bag? Have you ever had to evacuate? Have you suffered loss from a natural disaster? Leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you.
CONGRATULATIONS TO KATHLEEN G. for winning the set of books!! If you're interested in purchasing a set of signed books, you can CLICK HERE to learn more.
Hi, Everyone! I'm THRILLED to be offering a signed set of the first five books in The Unaltered series to one lucky winner! This has been a long time coming and I wish I could convey my level of excitement but all I can seem to do is use all caps and way too many exclamation marks. I hope you'll join in on the fun and enter the Rafflecopter drawing below. There's several entry possibilities, including one Thank You entry.
Good luck and Thanks for reading!
If you'd like to leave a comment but are unable to, please send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll post the comment for you. Thanks!
Enter to win a signed collector's edition bookmark
July 14th, 2017
Winners will be announced on July 15th, 2017
Ten winners will receive a signed, double-sided bookmark with genuine Herkimer quartz, obsidian, golden topaz, and 14kt gold-filled spacer beads. The tassel is strung with silver metallic lame cord and the bauble at the end features a glass diamond in a gold-tone cage.
I personally crafted these bookmarks from start to finish, threading each stone and bead and handling the different elements of nature in a state of awe. After writing extensively about these crystals and obsidian (volcanic glass) in my books, I found a greater connection to my own novels and the characters within. That may sound strange, but it's true. You'll see what I mean once you hold one of these beauties. More details on the beads below.
Each bookmark is valued at $30 USD.
How to enter
This giveaway is being offered in conjunction with the release of the print versions of the ebooks. The way to enter is to buy a print copy of any or all of The Unaltered series, then post a picture of the print book on Facebook and/or Instagram before July 14th, 2017. Be sure to tag my name on Facebook--Lorena Angell--so I know you entered. On Instagram, tag #The.Unaltered.Series. You don't have to be in the photo if you don't want to. (If you already own a copy, take a picture of it and post online.)
Each of the five books can be posted individually for five entries. Post on both Facebook and Instagram and get ten entries.
No Purchase Necessary. If purchasing a book is not in your budget but you'd still like to enter to win a bookmark, I have a couple ways you can do that. LEARN MORE HERE.
A better view of the glass diamond at the end of the tassel. The points on the Herkimer "Diamond" quartz are easy to see in this shot.
Shopping for shiny things
| |I scoured the Internet, searching for the exact elements to create the look I wanted. I hope you'll appreciate the natural golden topaz in its raw state as much as I do. On most of the pieces you can see the striation lines as described in the books. Topaz lines run vertical to the point while quartz lines run horizontal to the points.
I opted for the Herkimer "Diamond" quartz due to its clear brilliant glimmer and natural formation. The Herkimer quartz pictured to the right hasn't been cut or shaped. This is what they look like when found in nature. The only difference is the hole that's been drilled for beading purposes. The fact they are rare and will only form in certain conditions leads me to think about the possibility of them showing up in the book series somewhere. (wink, wink) Learn more about Herkimer "Diamonds" here on Geology.com.
I chose round obsidian beads for safety reasons. Obsidian is basically natural formed glass and is fragile. It can be very sharp when broken. The round polished beads make it possible to include the element on the tassel. I consider the size of the bead to be a "personal sized" piece. If you're familiar with the use of obsidian in the books, you'll know what that means.
The 14kt gold-filled beads are beautiful. Gold-filled means a brass bead (metal bead) has at least a 1/20th layer of solid gold bonded to it. Don't confuse this with the term "gold-plated" or "electroplated". Those items have a much thinner layer of gold and wear off quickly.
** Just a note here, I'm not a geologist. I've learned my information from many different sites on the Internet. If you see an error in my writing referring to the crystals, gems, rocks, etc. please let me know by using my Contact form
. Many thanks!
The Diamond of Freedom is now available in print
Thank you for your participation in raising awareness about The Unaltered series. This has been a long time coming. I'm thrilled to finally be able to hold my hard work in my hands!! I hope you will be too.If you have questions about how to enter the drawing, please use my Contact page and send me a note. Visit my other page about the Bookmark Drawing to learn more.
30+ eBooks up for Grabs!
If you love the fantasy genre in books, you'll want to be sure to enter to win this incredible selection! LEARN MORE here.
Every week, Authors Cross Promotion offers up package giveaways and individual title freebies offered by Indie Authors. This week I'm part of the Kick-Awesome Fantasy giveaway. Even if you've already read my book, I hope you'll enter the drawing. Who knows? You just might find a new author to put on your "Favorite" list, plus, you'll be supporting Indie Authors!
Thanks a million!
Wow! I can't believe how fast time flies by. I'm excited to update you on what I've been doing for the last few months. Print Books, Baby!
The process is underway and I'm announcing release dates in this post. I'm scattering out the release of each book to give each title the opportunity to become a #1 Bestseller. Also to break-up the cost for my readers. The paperback versions will be available on Amazon, Barnes&Noble.com, and through IngramSpark for public and school libraries and bookstores. Read on for more details on each book.
Book 1 A Diamond in My Pocket
- The interior changed a little. I removed the prologue after multiple readers’ opinions recommended I do so. Many of my readers didn’t even know I’d added one. I agree with everyone who said it changed the beginning tone of the series. So, it’s gone. For those of you who read the ebook a couple years ago, you’ll be in for a surprise with the print version. There’s more description and extended scenes. The main plotline is unchanged. Book one is currently available on Amazon, and Barnes&Noble.com for $14.99 USD. A Diamond in my Pocket is also on IngramSpark, discounted for libraries and bookstores.
Book 2 A Diamond in My Heart - As you see above, book 2 is in print form now. I'm so excited to be able to hold two of my books in my hands. Book two has gone through an overhaul and now has a few new scenes, extended existing scenes, and an overall improved reading experience.
Mark your calendar for May 15th as the release day of A Diamond in My Heart print version on Amazon. $14.99 USD
Book 3 The Diamond of Freedom has a new cover, different cover image, too. I had a professional photographer take the pictures on the front and back of book 3 of the actual pocket watch, diamond, and pouch from the book. The gemstones on the back are of the actual obsidian and gemstones I have. While the older cover also had the real watch and diamond/pouch, the image wasn’t clear enough to be on an IngramSpark cover. The interior has some minor changes to the current ebook’s content.
Mark your calendar for May 29th as the release day of The Diamond of Freedom print version on Amazon. $14.99 USD.
Book 4 The Diamond Bearers’ Destiny is heading off to the interior formatter. Minor changes were made to this storyline as I picked up on some small inconsistencies with the different powers and abilities. The cover’s file is being redesigned. I'll post an updated cover as soon as it's finished.
Mark your calendar for June 12th as the release day of The Diamond Bearers’ Destiny print version on Amazon. $14.99 USD.
Book 5 The Diamond Bearer’s Secret - While the interior content doesn’t need changes, the cover is being redesigned to flow with the rest of the book covers.
Mark your calendar for June 26th as the release date for The Diamond Bearer’s Secret print version on Amazon. $14.99 USD
Book 6 The Diamond Bearers’ Rising - The book cover is almost finished and the manuscript is being edited. After going through the process of submitting books for print and learning the amount of time needed to process files and approve proofs, I’m hopeful to be able to release book 6 in mid July in both ebook and print format.
If you've followed my series for a few years, you might be wondering: Why has this process taken so long to get into print? Well, there’s no one single answer to that question. I believe things come together when they’re ready to. As vague as that sounds, it’s true. My life, like yours I’m guessing, has had many ups and downs emotionally, financially, environmentally, etc. It feels like nothing goes as planned at times. However, I’ve continued to move forward at a snail’s pace. If you look at the fact that I released book one in 2011 and will release book six in 2017, that’s like releasing one book per year which isn’t too shabby. I now have real release dates for the print version books and am anxious to get the series out to readers and into libraries for readers with limited funds.
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On the price point, I chose the $14.99 amount based on other books in the same genre and on the expense involved for each book on my end. EBooks are definitely cheaper to produce than print, that’s for sure. In the end, time is money and I have to put a value on my time. I’m grateful to be able to submit to print-on-demand printers like CreateSpace, NookPrint, and IngramSpark. These printers and others like them make it possible to greatly reduce the amount of upfront money involved with putting my series into print.
AND LET'S NOT FORGET:
The Unaltered series is being optioned for film. Hollywood producers are trying to develop a movie of book one and I couldn't be more excited. I believe once the books grow in popularity, this will help the producers achieve the milestones needed to move forward with a movie. You can help this process by buying the books on Amazon on the release dates listed. With enough downloads, the books can reach #1 in their category--a status that will be noticed.
HOW COOL WOULD THIS BE?
Stay tuned for updates during this release process. Tuesdays are TUESDAY NEWSDAYS. I'll post important changes or updates on Tuesdays. Also, newsletter subscribers will be kept current on new news. You can subscribe to my Awesome Fans Newsletter at the top of the page.
Thanks for reading! Leave a comment by clicking on the word "Comments" below the Twitter and Facebook flags.
~GIFT IDEA: For the author in your life, whether it's YOU or someone you know, here's the best early gift you can give: Entrance to the free training webinar:Becoming A Bestselling Author On Amazon
Date: Wednesday December 7th, noon Pacific.
Webinar taught by Linda Stirling
, Dean of Dreams for Writers Who Want Prosperity and Visibility.
Linda helps launch or relaunch bestsellers multiple times each month, with a 99.9% success rate. I have personally used Linda's methods and know they work. My own books have reached over 250,000 readers across 40 countries and now have a movie option contract because of Linda Stirling. In gratitude, I want to help her help you by sharing this webinar with my friends.
To register, Text: 44222 and enter BOOKMAGIC
Bonuses for Attending Live Training Webinar:
~21 Ways to Promote
~Getting Started Calendar - Helping You Stay On Tract With Bestseller Goals
~Checklist (So You Don't Have To Think About What To Do When)
~Resource Directory (So You Can Implement Right Away)
If you have dreams of writing your own book, or if you already have but don't know the best way to get your book into the hands of your target audience, this free webinar is for you. Text: 44222 and enter BOOKMAGIC
and you'll be all set!
Hurry, you only have till Wednesday Dec. 7th, noon Pacific to register.
It's Diamond Giveaway Time!
****CONTEST ENDED**** Who will be the next Diamond Bearer? Will it be you? Contest runs Nov. 1-30, 2016.
Are you unfamiliar with The Unaltered series and the Sanguine Diamond? Here's a quick spoiler-free explanation: A Diamond in My Pocket, bk one of The Unaltered series (currently FREE on Amazon, Nook, iTunes, Smashwords) introduces a secret universe existing within our own. In this world, cosmic energy grants superhuman abilities, and people of like ability band together in clans for both safety and community. Flesh-ripping demons prowl at night, drawn to the cosmic energy.
Governments spy on clans, clans spy on governments, and trusting the wrong person may carry a terrible price. The Sanguine Diamond is a legendary, magical stone that resurfaces when it's demanded as ransom in exchange for the release of prisoners of each clan. The heroine of the story is secretly given the diamond to transport safely to the delivery event. Close contact with the stone empowers her with all of the different cosmic powers, allowing her to see the future, read minds, heal injuries, etc., exposing traitors, conspiracies, and a doomed future... one she feels compelled to change. A Diamond in My Pocket
is an International bestseller and is being optioned for film.
Congratulations to the winner: Christa Y.
I'm looking for interested people to help promote the launch of book six, The Diamond Bearers' Rising. I'm so excited to move forward with this series and would love to have you join in the fun. Right now the series is being pitched by Hollywood movie producers to big name studios. Wouldn't it be fantastic to be a part of a "rising" franchise? (See what I did there?)
I'll be rewarding my launch team members with a signed paperback copy of book six and other exclusive series merchandise not available anywhere else. As a team member you would help me spread the word about the book release for approximately three weeks through social media outlets. So, naturally, you'll need to have at least one, preferably two or more, online accounts ie: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
You do not need to have read all of The Unaltered series books to join, just be willing to promote, promote, promote.
To request to join the launch team, please fill out the form below.
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Announcing August's $25 Amazon Giftcard Giveaway Winner: --Cynthia D.
Thanks for being an "Awesome Fans" newsletter subscriber, Cynthia. I've sent you an email with instructions how to claim your giftcard.
I also gave away two $5 Amazon Giftcards. The winners are: --Leslie Collis & --Alicia Weiler
The $5 Giveaway was hosted through my new Facebook group: Avid Readers, Free Books
Both winners have been notified through Facebook. You are welcome to join my group: Click Here.
This is one super-exciting giveaway where one lucky winner will win $500 bucks! Plus, several authors, including myself, are giving away free ecopies of their books. The whole idea of this giveaway is for this group of authors to gain more followers on their Bookbub author profiles and increase social media presence. Don't pass up this opportunity to win BIG and support these hard-working Indie authors!