Super Secret Project


As I was giving this web site a much needed makeover, I realized I hadn’t written a post since…December 2018?! *Gasps*

And to be honest, I don’t really have the compulsion to blog as much as I used to (although I could probably do a bit better than once every ten months…). I mostly want this web site to be a place where people can find out more about the Reborn series, and what I’m currently working on, all in one place.

I do have a few more books planned for the Reborn series. The first wraps up Siobhan’s (and Carly’s) stories from the previous three books. I also have a partial draft of a stand-alone, Halloween novel that takes place in the Reborn world. I thought I’d be able to get that out for this Halloween, but I’m pushing it back again. (Sorry about that, but I had a wonderful, whirlwind of a summer getting married and moving!)

Also, I have a super secret WIP that has kind of taken precedence. I’ve been working on it on and off for a long time, and it just needs to get done. But I’m excited about it! There’s really no reason for it to be super secret, except that it’s not part of the Reborn series, and I’m not ready to talk much about it yet. I will say it’s a YA science fiction novel with some romance and a lot of drama. (Think Riverdale…with aliens. LOL.)

In any case, you know I like to share playlists of the songs I’m listening to while I’m working on a project. So, here you go…my super angsty, YA book playlist (with YouTube links).

In retrospect, there is a lot of Billie Eilish on here. I’m an adult.

Bad Guy – Billie Eilish

Bubblegum B*tch – Marina (formerly & The Diamonds)

Girls Like You – The Naked and Famous

Starry Eyed – Ellie Goulding

Lock You Up – Charli XCX

Shampain – Marina (side note: this is the best music video ever)

Bury A Friend – Billie Eilish

One Of A Kind – Placebo

Indie Rokkers – MGMT

Teen Idle – Marina

Emotional – Charli XCX

Ocean Eyes – Billie Eilish

E.T. – Katy Perry

Rectify is Live!


Rectify, a new novella in the Reborn series, is now live!

Find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and more!

Add it on Goodreads.

Synopsis:

Love ’em and leave ’em. That’s always been Apate’s motto. The Olympian goddess of trickery doesn’t have time for entanglements, romantic or otherwise. And she sure as hell doesn’t have time for regret.

But when Thurston University student Siobhan Elliot goes missing and the human cops start sniffing around, Apate’s dubious past catches up with her. Now it’s only a matter of time until Jimmy, her latest conquest—who also happens to be Siobhan’s ex—finds out it’s her fault. To cover her tracks, Apate pays a visit to the Elliots, using her powers of illusion to pose as their daughter and convince them everything’s fine. Lying is easy. Confronting the consequences of her actions, however, will prove to be much harder than Apate expected.

To find her redemption, Apate knows it’s time to come clean. But the truth could cost her the only love she’s ever known.

New Year’s Resolutions N’at


It’s that time again (or, as January is almost over, passed that time) to set goals for the new year, including writing goals! So read on for my official, writing-related new year’s resolutions n’at. (And if you don’t know what n’at means, you may need this.)

Last year, I accomplished several major writing and publishing goals. Accomplishments included self-publishing Reclaim, the third book in my Reborn series, as well as a companion novella, Revenge. I attended my first writing-related conference and joined two professional organizations for a little networking and friendship with other writers. I also submitted a standalone young adult novel I’d written to a writing contest (Pitch Wars). That was a major fail, haha, but I’m glad I did it. I don’t know if I’ll try it again this year, but definitely in the future. (If you’d like to find out more about Pitch Wars, visit their site.) I managed to accomplish another goal in 2017, but I’m keeping that under wraps for now…it remains to be seen whether it will be a success or a failure. 😉

Although I didn’t do as good of a job updating this blog last year, I did a lot of writing, even if I wasn’t always writing about writing. Teehee. In addition to the Pitch Wars manuscript, I wrote (most) of a Reborn-world novel for NaNoWriMo. “Reborn-world” because it’s based in the same mythology, but mostly focuses on two characters not in the other books. It’s, quite frankly, not anywhere close to being done. When I took a break from it over the holidays I realized it had some problems I needed to work through. I still think there’s an interesting story there, but I’ve put it on the back-burner for now.

(As an aside, this is also why I shouldn’t gleefully announce projects way in advance, lol. I thought for sure I’d want to do something with it. I still probably will, but it’s not top priority at this time. It was still important writing as far as back story goes, though. As authors, we write down a lot that doesn’t actually end up making it into a book. But we have to know it happened. If that makes any sense…)

In addition to writing projects, which I PROMISE I’ll get to in a second, I have several marketing-related goals I want to meet. This is always hard for me, as it is for any self-published author (and probably any author, really…) because, although I know how important marketing and promotions are, it takes time away from actual writing. Which is what I want to be doing. However, I’m hoping that if I write down these resolutions here, for all to see, I’ll be more likely to do them. At least that’s the idea. 😉

  • Web site: I really need to upgrade this site. Like yesterday. There’s no reason I can’t buy my own domain and transfer everything over…I think GoDaddy let’s you do this. But it’s slightly extra work and I don’t wanna. But I need to.
  • Newsletter: I want to start an author newsletter to give more targeted updates to readers. I’ve been doing some research into this, subscribing to newsletters from authors I enjoy to see what they do. It seems like MailChimp is the way to go for this? (If you have any thoughts, feel free to leave them in the comments–about any of this, of course, but especially newsletters!)
  • Author Signing/Book Festival: The idea of going to one of these things feels really overwhelming to me, like even just thinking about it. I attended a panel of local authors talking about these last weekend and…even though I expected there to be a lot of prep for these events, there were tons of details I hadn’t even thought of. Yikes. So my goal is to just do one of these in 2018. Just one, and go from there.

Writing Resolutions

And now for the moment you all, or at least some of you, have been waiting for. I did start writing a thing this January. It doesn’t have a title yet…except for Reborn Book 4. 😉 It will likely be the last book in this series with Siobhan, Carly, Jasper et al. as the main characters. But I felt, in addition to tying up loose ends from the previous books, they still had stories waiting to be told. (I do have ideas for other books set in this world…”spin off” books, if you will, for characters that have been more secondary or minor until now.)

I’ve just started writing so am still getting a feel for this book. I think I’m somewhere in between a plotter and a pantser, lol. Although I have the main plot and some of the major turning points in mind, sometimes I just start writing without a clear outline, to see what my imagination cooks up. Then I stop and go back and sort of reassess things, making a clearer outline then. Even when I do outline, things often don’t go as planned, but that’s part of the fun. I don’t want to force the story to go a certain way if that’s not where the characters are taking me.

So I can’t tell you a lot about this book yet, but I can tell you some of the loose ends it will address. This is probably an incomplete list since I’m not looking at my notes, going off the top of my head here (and, if you haven’t read the Reborn series yet, spoilers abound):

  • Sibohan’s origin. Siobhan is unique among the halflings, those who are part human, part Olympian. She seems to have a special set of powers no one else has. In this book, you’ll find out why.
  • Siobhan and Jasper. They’re together at the end of Relapse, but it’s an imperfect union. Jasper loves someone who finds it hard, with good reason, to truly love him back. Siobhan feels more of an addiction to Jasper than actual love, but I think Jasper is on the road to redemption and she will discover there are honest feelings there. In any case, these two need a more satisfying resolution.
  • Eric and Anna. Eric has been the “big bad” up to this point, building his halfling army to overthrow Zeus back on Olympus. He suffered a bad defeat at the end of Reclaim, but he’s making his comeback in this book, his army larger and more formidable than ever. But Eric has secrets still waiting to be uncovered. If you remember from Relapse, Siobhan and Victoria almost happen upon one of them in his penthouse when they’re rescuing Vanessa… Anna had some problems at the end of book 2, to say the least, although she’s since been on the road to recovery. She undergoes quite a transformation in the meantime…it’s been fun to play around with her character more.
  • Prophecies. There have been two main prophecies floating around in the series that are pretty important, and now you’ll get to find out why. Vanessa says one of them in Relapse, and Moira, an Olympian seer, gives Carly the other in Reclaim.

Speaking of Carly…she will have a major part to play in this upcoming book as well, and I’m hoping to resolve some of the loose ends involving her. However, I don’t have this part completely ironed out yet so I won’t say anything more. A lot about everything I’ve said could still change because I’ve just started writing it…these were just some of the specific plot threads I’ve left dangling that I want to make sure to tie up…if not into a neat, tidy bow, at least into some sort of complicated knot that’s really hard to get out…

As far as a timeline for all of this goes, I don’t have much sense of a release date. I am sorry for that, but I’m also not going to set one for a while, at least until I have a better sense of how this is all going to come together. Although I am a writer, and I love that part of myself, I’ve been learning not to try to solely define myself by that. I have other goals, other obligations, not related to writing at all, that are important to me, too. Between all of those things, and writing, it’s just hard for me to get a sense of how to time releases. The book is done when it’s done, haha. I want to make it something readers will devour and enjoy, not something that was rushed. If I had to guess, maaaaaaybe I could get this book out end of 2018 or spring of 2019, but we shall see. This is not a hard deadline (clearly).

I know waiting is hard, but I hope you’ll bear with me. The wait will be worth it. In the meantime, if you’ve read any of the Reborn series and enjoyed it, take a moment to spread the word! Tell even just one friend about it, or post a rating and/or short review to Goodreads, Amazon, etc.

Happy 2018, and most importantly, happy reading!

 

 

Friday News and Updates


Happy Friday!

k-pop friday GIF by Cheezburger

Usually I save my update posts for Wednesdays, but I found myself with a free moment and decided a blog post was long overdue! Read on for updates regarding the availability of e-books in the Reborn series as well as current WIPs.

Availability:

A few months ago, I took down Reclaim (Reborn book #3) and Revenge (a novella) from Smashwords so that I could make them exclusive to Kindle for a period of time and take advantage of Amazon’s deal options (which are only available for exclusive books). And, although I do like the Amazon Kindle platform for a lot of things (I mean, I do make most of my sales there), this was a somewhat failed experiment, lol. It happens. I have basically come to the conclusion that Kindle Unlimited is useless (at least for authors, and maybe specifically indie authors).

But the good news is, this means I’m taking these books out of KDP Select once the enrollment periods end and making them available for Nook, Apple, and the other e-book platforms once again! The enrollment period is up for Reclaim on December 10, and on December 16 for Revenge. After the terms end, I’ll publish them again through Smashwords. There will be some lag time as they get approved for Premium Status and then transferred to all of Smashwords’ affiliates, but I’m guessing by the end of December they will be available on all of those platforms. I’ll post links to the home page as they go live.

Current Project/NaNoWriMo

Some of you might know this from following me on Twitter, but I did National Novel Writing Month (a.k.a. NaNoWriMo) this year! Woooo! Lol. I didn’t “win” (the goal is to write 50,000 words in November), but I did come pretty close. Writing a little over 40K is still pretty good, if you ask me. 😉 Sure, it’s probably 40K crap that I will tear apart later as I’m editing, but sometimes you just gotta get words down on a page. Otherwise you will never get anywhere.

My NaNoWriMo project was sort of unexpected. I didn’t think I’d get as deep into it as I did, which is a good thing! Honestly, it started out as some Reborn series backstory. Then, I started thinking I could maybe get a companion novella out of it. Now it’s turning into a monster, ha. Even if I had reached the 50K mark it still wouldn’t be done, so it’s definitely a work-in-progress. I had to put it aside for a little bit because I had deadlines for other things that cropped up, but my goal is to try to finish the first draft before the new year.

So, yes, it’s another book that takes place in the Reborn world…as in, the same “rules” of magic apply as in the other books of the series, but it’s about a different set of characters (one of them does make a guest appearance in Revenge and Reclaim).

The idea began to germinate when I was reading up on Hades and Persephone. I loosely knew their origin story, but needed a refresher. And, just like the Greek myths that inspired the other Reborn books (and namely, Eros and Psyche), I was left thinking about how creepy it was. Of course, I try to put it in context…our modern perspectives on some of the themes in these ancient stories is quite different and still constantly evolving. Still, the story of Hades’ abduction of Persephone is pretty creepy, to say the least.

Just like with Psyche and Eros, I wanted to put a modern twist on it. I wanted it to take place considerably before the events of Reborn, so it starts out at a Halloween party in the year 1999. (I also started writing it right after Halloween so…yeah.) Persephone is a “daughter” of the ’90s so to speak, so when she encounters Hades she doesn’t put up with any of his b.s. Also, since she is from a more modern time period, there’s a weird time travel element to it that hopefully won’t be too confusing. But, to quote the good Doctor, time is just a big ball of wibbly wobbly, time-y wimey stuff, anyway. 😉

david tennant what GIF by Doctor Who

So in essence it’s a sort of time traveling, Greek myth meets Beauty and the Beast dark romantic fantasy novel. (That’s a genre, right?)

It has a working title that I don’t feel like sharing yet because this project could still go nowhere. I could end up deciding it’s still just good backstory–good for me to know the events in it happened, but not necessary for readers. As writers, a lot of stuff we write doesn’t, and shouldn’t, see the light of day. But for now I’m excited about it, and it seems to have potential…

To conclude, here is a playlist of random songs I’ve been listening to while writing it (don’t even ask me how T. Swiftie made it onto this playlist, even I don’t know the answer to that…). YouTube links are included.

Playlist:

The Killing Moon – Echo and the Bunnymen

Miss Murder – AFI

White Mustang – Lana del Rey

Dancin’ in Circles – Lady Gaga

Cherry – Lana del Rey

Every You, Every Me – Placebo

Muddy Waters – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Green Light – Lorde

…Ready For It? – Taylor Swift

 

‘Tis the Season…October Freebies


In the…spirit of Halloween, I’m running two promotions on Amazon over the next two weeks.

Today and tomorrow (October 18-19), my novella Revenge is free for all Kindle users. One of its reviewers said it has a Halloween-ish vibe, so it’s a perfect quick read for this time of the year. You can download it here. And, although it takes place in the Reborn world, it can be read as a stand-alone.

Then next week, Reclaim (Reborn #3) is free for Kindle from October 24-25, down from its regular price of $2.99. You can purchase it here.

If you know anything about me, you know I love October and I LOVE Halloween and costumes and scary everything and just everything about it. So I’m glad to be able to share these two paranormal-themed stories with you to celebrate.

Happy Halloween, and happy reading!

 

Excerpt: The Visitor


Happy Monday!

I’ve been going through some old drafts of things I started and then put aside, trying to decide what writing project to work on next and what excerpt I could post on the blog. Some were too R-rated (lol), another I felt was potentially too dark, but this one seemed just right. 🙂 It’s really just backstory, so I don’t know if it will ever make its way into a book, but I wrote it when I was thinking about Carly’s bad ass grandma, and about who her biological father is (the one who left their mother when they were young). Sounds scumbag-ish, but like always in the Reborn world, nothing is as it first appears…..

This is some Carly family backstory, related to events that happened in Reclaim (Reborn Book #3). (I recommend *not* reading it if you haven’t read Reclaim and are planning to, because it will spoil parts of it.) And please keep in mind this was mostly for my notes so it’s very rough, but I thought readers of the series would enjoy it. Happy reading!

*****

Image result for someone knocking on a doorUpstate New York, eleven years ago

Darlene Vignovich was just beginning to doze off when there was a loud, urgent knocking at the front door.

She gave a shudder, paper-thin eyelids flying open, and sat straight up in her chair. Placing a gnarled, wrinkled hand on either chair arm, she hoisted herself to standing, then, grabbing her cane from where it was propped up against the end table, propelled herself toward the door. Three more loud, demanding knocks sounded on the other side. She thought about alerting her husband, who was out back tending to his rose bushes (as always), deciding against it a moment later. From the sudden, inexplicable drop in temperature in the room, and the way the breath left her lips in small, white puffs, she already knew who stood on the other side of that door.

She knew she could handle him.

“You,” she said after unlatching and pulling the door open. She kept the screen door locked, meeting the pair of bright, blue eyes on the other side of it with a steely resolve. They belonged to a very tall man with a strong-looking but slim body, a head of salt-and-pepper hair and beard to match, and those keen blue eyes peering out of a tan face lined with age. He looked to be about fifty, but each time Darlene had seen him over her long life he had looked the same. The first time their paths had crossed she had been eighteen and a freshman in college, and she had thought him an old man, albeit a distinguished one. Now that she was an old woman, he looked younger and more appealing than ever.

“Where do you get off, dropping by here unexpectedly,” Darlene snapped, jabbing her cane in his direction. “You should have called first.”

“Darlene.” He said her name patiently, imploringly, and spread his arms in an apologetic manner, palms out to face her. “You’re the one that invited me here.”

“I know that,” she spat, spittle flying through the air, collecting on the glass pane of the door in tiny round droplets. “I’m not senile, just old.” Although sometimes she wondered about that, herself. Sometimes she got confused. Usually, it was small things. Calling one of her granddaughters by her daughter’s name. Looking in the fridge for the sugar, and in the cupboard for the milk. But sometimes it was bigger things. The two worlds, two realities she had forced apart her entire life had, at some point, floated back together and now bled into each other, like squirts of blue and green dye mixing in a bowl of water.

“Darlene. Open the door,” the visitor beseeched her calmly.

After a moment’s stubborn pause, Darlene obliged, unlocking and opening the screen door.

One shiny black dress shoe, then the other, crossed the threshold, clapping over the hardwood floor. His dark suit was snug and well-tailored, the outline of muscle much too prominent for someone his age visible underneath the expensive material. Underneath, he wore a crisp white shirt and a purple tie.

“You should have called,” Darlene scolded him again, shuffling over to perch on the edge of a couch cushion. He sat down in the arm chair she had vacated moments ago, reclining it back slightly, making himself at home. “Hannah and the girls will be here soon. If they see you…”

“They won’t,” he assured her, drumming long, elegant fingers on his thigh. “They’ll never know I was here, will go on believing I left their mother, abandoned them.”

“You did,” she reminded him.

“Only because you demanded it of me.”

“You would have left eventually, anyway. That’s what your kind do. Spread your seed on this world and then bolt.”

“My kind?” The corner of his mouth ticked upward. Despite herself, Darlene always thought the man had a nice mouth. There was a sensuous curve to his lips, and they were a nice, smooth pale pink, like the peonies that grew in her garden. “It’s your kind too, Darlene. Our blood runs through your veins.”

Even though she already knew this—he had told her and her sorority sisters this sixty years ago—Darlene still shivered, the hairs on her forearms pricking. “Yes. Demon blood does run through them. But so does human blood. And that is where I derive my strength from.”

“Demon blood.” The visitor rolled those too-blue eyes. “We’re not demons. We are not evil. We are simply more…advanced. If anything, we’re angels. Gods.”

Darlene’s head of tight, white curls sliced to the right, then the left. “God has nothing to do with the likes of you. Living so long, being so beautiful, so…alluring…that can’t be God’s work. It is Satan’s. It is an abomination.”

“Is that what you would call your granddaughters?” He leaned forward in the chair, eyes deepening to an icier shade of blue. The temperature in the room took a nosedive, and Darlene felt little tendrils of frost collecting in her nose, on her eyelashes. “Abominations? Your ‘tainted’ blood flows through their veins. So does mine.”

“Carly and Diane will never know of this world,” she insisted, embracing herself. She didn’t want her daughter’s ex-husband to catch her shivering, but she couldn’t help it. His easily sparked temper had thrown them into a freezer. “I have made sure of that.”

“You won’t be around to protect them forever.” His reminder chilled her even further. “They’ll be out in the world, on their own. Just like you, they will gravitate toward the sisterhood. They will discover their heritage. Their destiny.”

“No.” She shook her head again. “I won’t let that happen.”

All at once, the temperature in the room rose again, the frost clinging to her eyelids and nostrils melting. The visitor sat back in the chair again, raking a hand through his salt-and-pepper hair. “You don’t have to leave them,” he continued in a calmer, kinder tone. “You know that. I can give you more ambrosia. It will awaken the rest of your…demon”—he sneered the word—“blood, give you practically eternal life. But you won’t have to leave Hannah, or your granddaughters.”

Darlene extended a hand to the top of her cane, feeling the grooves in the wood with her fingers. “I don’t want to leave them. But, one day, I’ll have to. That is the natural order of things. The circle of life. I won’t destroy my soul, even for eternal life.”

He sighed. “That’s my Darlene, always so damn moral.”

Darlene nodded once, stiffly. “That’s right. So, did you bring it? Do you have what I requested?” He’d better not have come empty handed.

Nodding and reaching into his suit jacket, her former son-in-law pulled out a black velvet, drawstring bag, seeming to weigh it in his hand before handing it to her. Darlene accepted it, resting the bag on her lap and opening it up, peering inside.

“This is it?” she asked, still unable to believe it. To trust him. “This will seal the rift that’s on the outskirts of my property?”

“That, and this.” He reached back into his jacket, this time emerging with a piece of yellowed parchment. “This is the ritual that will close the tear. Permanently.”

“Good.” Accepting the parchment from him, Darlene gingerly folded it in half and tucked it inside her robe. She pulled on the drawstrings, closing the black velvet pouch. “I’m not sure what’s out there, but there’s something on the other side of that rift. I can hear them sometimes, crying. Screaming.” More demons, she assumed, but she wasn’t about to bring that up in front of him again. There was no point. The rift would be repaired soon, and everything would be back to normal. “What do you think could cause such a thing?” she asked, almost as an afterthought. “I thought the walls the guardians erected long ago were supposed to be full-proof.”

“They are quite sturdy,” he agreed, “but can occasionally weaken and fail from natural wear and tear. But it’s nothing to worry about. That should do the trick.” He nodded toward the bag still sitting in her lap. Darlene wasn’t sure she believed that the anomaly was “nothing to worry about,” but she didn’t pursue that either. Hannah and the girls would be there soon. It was time for him to go.

He seemed to understand this, bringing the recliner forward again and getting to his feet, adjusting his tie as he strode toward the door. “Don’t bother getting up, Darlene.” He waved a hand in her direction just as she was making to push up onto her feet with her cane. “I can see myself out.”

But before he left, he turned again, one hand on the door, the other fisted at his side. “My daughters do not have evil inside of them. They have my people’s magic. Power. You don’t want me to be a part of their lives? Fine. I’ll stay away. But do not shelter them. Don’t deny them their heritage. Like you, like Hannah—though she doesn’t know it—they are guardians. And they are so much more. If you don’t tell them, they will find out some other way. I guarantee it. The Fates will guide them to their destiny. But it’s better that you prepare them. Think about it.”

With that, he pushed through the screen door, pulling it closed behind him much too hard, causing the glass pane to shudder and rattle. Heaving a sigh, Darlene set the black velvet pouch containing the object capable of mending the walls-between-worlds on the couch before getting up to close and lock the heavy oak door. Feeling suddenly breathless, she turned, leaning her back against the cool wood of the door, closing her eyes. He was right about one thing. Maybe she should tell Carly and Diane. Everything.

A moment later, she shook her head, going back over to the couch to retrieve the bag. She would need time to learn how to use the object inside properly and to practice the ritual. Until then, she would hide it away from her granddaughters’ inquisitive eyes. No, she decided, shuffling up the stairs. It was best Carly and Diane only knew the world they were used to. One that was safe. Normal. No demons, no parallel worlds, no magic. They would never know about the guardians, nor who their father really was.

She would make sure of it.

 

Updates August 29, 2017


Why hello there! It’s been a while (sorry about that)…

Madelaine Petsch ouch yikes riverdale cringe GIF

It’s been a pretty busy summer. A great summer, but a busy one.

Even so, I did make some time for writing! However, I stepped away from the Reborn series for the latter part of the summer to work on a different project. I spent much of the summer revamping an old young adult sci-fi (with some romance) novel I’d written awhile ago to get it ready for Pitch Wars.

What is Pitch Wars, you ask? You can get the deets on author Brenda Drake’s web site, but it’s basically a contest to try to win a mentor (usually an editor or previously published author) that will help you further revise and polish up your manuscript. Later in the fall, there’s an agent showcase where you can pitch your newly revised manuscript to agents.

To enter, you need a completed middle grade, young/new adult, or adult novel. You start by submitting a query letter and the first chapter of your manuscript to four mentors of your choosing. There are different mentors for each of the three categories, and before the submission period there’s a blog hop during which each mentor describes what genres they’re interested (or not interested) in mentoring.

I gave it a try this year and didn’t get a mentor…but that’s okay. I’m remaining optimistic. 😉 If anything, I got to see what the contest was all about and may try again next year with a different manuscript. There were around 3000 entries this year and about 180 mentors, I think (I don’t remember the exact stats), so competition was fierce. Plus, now I have a manuscript I can fiddle around with more. I may try to query agents and small publishers with this one first. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll consider self-publishing it.

But now I’ll get back to other writing projects/ideas as well. This summer I also joined a few professional organizations to up my networking game, including Romance Writers of America and Pennwriters. I’ve been meeting some great people through them so far. I have a few author friends I keep in touch with online, but it’s nice to have some real life author acquaintances, too. The writing life, as you can imagine, can be a pretty solitary existence, so it’s super important to take that extra step to network with other writers and potential readers.

I’ll have to check back in with my writing/publishing plans for fall because…I don’t know what they are yet.

Geek & Sundry reaction sam and GIF

It might be fun to post another short story for Halloween, though, like I did two years ago with the short that eventually become my novella Revenge. But we’ll see!

 cat future sunglasses future is bright GIF

July Updates and Promotions


So I realized I haven’t written an update post (or any sort of post) since April. Woops. My bad. 😉

One of my goals this summer is to give this site an overhaul, or possibly make a new site and transfer everything over. Although I have a soft spot for this blog because it’s my baby, haha, and where I started my self-publishing journey, I’d like something that looks more professional, and with more of a focus on my books rather than blogging. I will still, of course, blog from time to time, but I don’t really have the time anymore to blog as often as I used to. (Although, to be fair, I’m not sure I ever really had the time…I was just procrastinating from my dissertation, bahaha…..)

But, until then, this will still be the go-to place for writing and book updates. Speaking of which, I have a little summer promotion going on I’d like to plug.

I’ve enrolled all of the installments in the Reborn series (thus far) into Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale promotion (because it’s summer in the Northern Hemisphere and winter in the Southern Hemisphere), which runs through July 31, 2017. Sign up for Smashwords (it’s free!) to check out a lot of great e-books at reduced prices.

Reborn, Relapse, and Reclaim are all 50% off (coupon code: SSW50). The novella Revenge is free (coupon code: SW100).

The codes will only work on Smashwords, but it’s easy and free to sign up!

Happy July, and happy reading!

~S.L.~

Adventures in Marketing


Long time, no post. Didja miss me?

The only “real” update I have is that I am giving away two signed paperback copies of Reclaim on Goodreads! The giveaway is open through April 27th (U.S. residents only) and you can access it here.

This post will serve as my monthly check-in for April, but since I don’t have any earth shattering updates, I’ve decided to do a post about my recent “adventures” in marketing. And by adventures, I really mean me trying different marketing platforms to see what works.

So what works? The truth is, I don’t know yet, haha. 😉 I am still learning and exploring what options are out there. And I’ve only recently started toying with Amazon and Goodreads’ marketing tools. I know it will take more than a few months trial and error to see what really works, to figure out what I think works best. So this is more of a post that–if you haven’t played around with any of these tools yet or simply don’t know what’s out there–will hopefully give you somewhere to start. And, if you come across this post with experiences of your own you’d like to share, feel free to comment down below! 🙂

Facebook

I’ll be honest with you: Although I loved Facebook when I was first starting out as an indie author, it’s slowly becoming one of my least favorite platforms.

Don’t get me wrong. I still like it for certain things. I still value it as a go-to spot to connect with friends and readers, to post links to interesting, book-related articles or to my own blog posts. But, ever since Facebook has started pushing its own advertising platform (and, as a result, decreasing the number of followers who see your posts unless you pay up), it’s become less of a fun thing to do.

And, believe me, I get it. I totally get that if you’re going to have your author page or whatever on Facebook, and you’re advertising a product (in this case, my books), that Facebook would like some compensation for that. The only thing is, I’m not super convinced (yet) that paying Facebook to advertise your books leads to tangible results (i.e., book sales). In my experience so far, it doesn’t, and–compared to the other options I’m going to talk about next–it isn’t cost effective, or any kind of effective. And at the risk of getting banned from Facebook forever (would they do that? lol!), I started to feel like the money I was paying to advertise on there would have been better spent getting flushed down the toilet.

Not that advertising on it is completely useless. What you’re really paying for is extending your reach on Facebook, so if you advertise the page itself you will see some new page likes trickle in, or if you boost a post you will see more likes on said post than you would have had you not shelled out $20. But as for any of those people buying your book…I am still skeptical. Maybe if you run it constantly enough and people see it all the time they might finally get curious and buy it or something. However, I’m not convinced enough of this yet to use Facebook for constant advertising, unless maybe it’s around the time of a book release.

Also, just as a heads up, you have to be careful how you lay out your advertisement on Facebook because it gets angry when there are too many words haha. Only a certain percentage of it can be text. As a result, you will likely get a warning message when you prepare an advertise for your book that includes the book cover. Usually it’s okay because book covers are one of the exceptions to this rule (Facebook will still approve the ad), but it’s something to be aware of. I think it’s kind of dumb, though. A LOT of authors are trying to promote their books via Facebook, and including the book cover is an important part of that.

Amazon

Although I will have to experiment more with Amazon’s, for me it’s definitely a more appealing option than Facebook. For one thing, on Amazon (and Goodreads, as you’ll find out next), you only get charged if someone actually clicks on your ad. So, even if they don’t end up buying it, at least they have to physically do something for you to get charged, and it feels a little less like flushing money down the toilet, haha.

Amazon Marketing Services offers two campaign types, sponsored products or product display ads. So far, I have only tried the former. You include a catchy tagline for the advertisement, and you select the start and end dates for the campaign, as well as the maximum amount you are willing to spend per day. So, for example, I ran a sponsored products ad for Reborn for about a month with a daily cap at $5 per day. (Sounds like a lot, right? Because over a month, if you actually reach that threshold every day, you could end up spending $150. But more about that in a second.)

You also choose what keywords may lead to your product getting display (for my book, I chose keywords like “paranormal romance” and “urban fantasy”). Amazon will have suggestions for you based on past searches that have brought people to your book. You can pick as many keywords as you like. You also choose a bid for each click…so, for instance, I could pick “paranormal romance” and bid $0.10, so I will get charged that amount if someone using those keywords happens upon my ad AND clicks on it. I would reach my daily threshold of $5 if 50 people clicked on my ad at $0.10/click.

Next time, I will probably up the bid (I think $0.25 or $0.50 are the usual suggestions). I *think* the bid has something to do with how often your ad is shown (that’s how it works over on Goodreads, at least).

The ad for Reborn, as described above, made about 49,500 impressions in the month it was running. It got 79 clicks, and I made two sales. I mean, now that I’ve put all that out there for you, it doesn’t sound super great (ha, ha), but in that month I only spend $12.70 on this, because not everyone who sees your ad will actually click on it. You may not end up spending anywhere near your daily max every single day of the ad.

That being said, I wouldn’t recommend picking a daily max you couldn’t actually afford if you did end up paying that much. I’m obviously still experimenting with this, and maybe if I said I was willing to spend $100 per day on advertising I would get better results, but that is not happening any time soon. Although I think people should be willing to invest both time and some money into their dream, I’m not recommending you splurge your life savings on it. (Please don’t do that.) This is the cheapskate’s guide to marketing your e-book.

Goodreads

By the way, I should probably have put in this disclaimer much earlier, but I do not work for or represent any of these companies. I am just hoping this post can serve as a source of helpful information that’s all in one place and giving my honest opinion about each of them.

Like the others, Goodreads’ usefulness remains to be seen, but so far it might be my favorite. It’s true that it will likely be a challenge to get a click on an ad on Goodreads to turn into an actual book sale, but it also seems like I will be able to run my ads for a much longer time on there while spending the least amount of money. Which is what I’m always aiming for. Like I said. Cheap. Skate.

Seriously, though. You can create ONE Goodreads campaign, with one budget, and run MULTIPLE ads simultaneously. I have one campaign running right now with a budget of $25, and four ads (one for each book/novella in the Reborn series) running at the same time. I chose to just end the campaign (I started it March 22nd) when the $25 credit runs out. In the meantime, it just keeps on runnin’.

On Goodreads, you can also choose a daily maximum so you can cap how much you are willing to spend per day. I again chose a $5 daily cap and this time chose a $0.50 cost per click. You can choose which genders, countries, and genres you want Goodreads to display your ad(s) to. You also choose a tagline and other info you might want displayed (number of reviews, a link to the preview, etc.).

This campaign is currently running and is obviously still an experiment-in-progress. Since March 22 when it began, it’s been viewed 10,556 times. Only one person has clicked on one of the ads, so I’ve only spent $0.50 so far. I think what I like about it is that it will just keep running, I don’t have to do anything, and, like on Amazon, I don’t get charged unless someone who sees the ad makes a meaningful action (i.e., clicks on it). This is opposed to Facebook, who just gets your $25 either way, ahaha. (I’m sorry Mark Zuckerberg. Don’t take it personally.) Talk about paying for people to “like” you.

Addendum 4/17: So, I wasn’t exactly correct about how Goodreads’ ad campaigns worked…namely about how/when they charge you. I’ll fix it above later (when I have more time), but for now I’m adding this. It does charge you when it creates the ad, but only takes money off the credit when someone clicks on it. BUT…but…this still means that your original credit could still go a long way.

*****

It is too soon to tell what my feelings on all of this will be a few months from now, or a year from now. I will keep you posted. For now, I hope this has been an informative post for those of you who have yet to try any of these things out. I know there are other avenues out there I haven’t explored yet. So far, the results of these ad campaigns haven’t been crazy successful. I guess I’m also hoping there is some value in just seeing the ad (in addition to clicking on it) that may prove useful in the long run…that it will, in time, lead to an add on a Goodreads to-read list and, eventually, to a sale.

Only time will tell.

March Check-In


This is my official check-in for March!

My goal for 2017 is to do an update post once a month (or once every two months, if I don’t have many updates). I’ll usually post these more mid-month, but I’m doing it earlier this time because I have a promotion going on at Smashwords I want to announce. And I also promised some insight into future books, so that’s what the second part of this post is about.

Promotions:

All of the Reborn installments thus far are on sale for free over at Smashwords; just enter the code SFREE at checkout. If you don’t have a Smashwords account, no worries–it’s free to create an account. This is part of Smashwords’ Read an Ebook Week that runs through March 11.

The Grand Plan

So I’ve been keeping busy updating my book notes and planning out the rest of the series. I’m not really doing any regular writing yet, maybe a little here and there, because honestly I’m kind of burned out from finishing Reclaim. I need a break. I know the usual writers’ advice goes that you should write a little every day, but sometimes I just need to let my imagination wander, clear my mind to let inspiration strike. But that doesn’t mean I can’t tell you a bit about where the Reborn series is headed.

Even though thus far I’ve been a one project at a time kind of writer, I’m going to do my best to bounce back and forth between projects this time, so that I can publish things simultaneously, like I did with Revenge and Reclaim. Even though Revenge was just a novella and the latter was a full-length book, I liked being able to put them out close together. This time, I’ll aim to put out books 4 and 5 (which don’t have titles yet) around the same time, maybe a few months apart. This is mainly because book 5 goes back to mostly Siobhan’s story (and Carly’s a little bit)–and I’m sure you’re kind of wondering where I’m taking those plot threads–but book 4 focuses on Anna.

What this series sort of turned into is three separate (but related) stories–Siobhan, Carly, and Anna’s. The events in book 4 run parallel to Reclaim, but since Anna isn’t in the sorority it’s really a completely different story. I just couldn’t see any seamless way to incorporate her story into any other book, but it’s a story I want to tell. Plus, one of the big reveals of the series will happen in book 4.

The first three books are kinda dark, but not really, but I think the next book is going to go to a very dark place. Hopefully you guys will stick with it, lol. Siobhan’s story is in part a story of an inner battle between good and evil, and, although at the end of Relapse Siobhan is left giving in to her darker side, good will ultimately win out. Carly is a more resilient character and isn’t as easily swayed by darkness. Anna’s story, on the other hand, is going to be more of her transforming into a villain in the series (while also gaining a lot of power). Just to mentally prepare you early on, haha. I’m also reading up on some other mythology for book 4. The focus is still on the Greek gods, of course, but I think it’s cool how similar stories and concepts pop up in different cultures, even those separated by oceans (like La Iara, a figure in Brazilian mythology similar to the siren).

The working title for book 4 is Relinquish, although I might change it to something shorter, snappier.

On the other side of things, Siobhan and Carly have more in common than just belonging to the same sorority, which I’ll come back to in book 5. You’ll also get to find out who Carly’s dad is. 😉 This book will tie up most of the loose ends from the previous installments. (Depending on how things go, there will likely be a book 6, which I won’t get into yet. Who knows, I may just decide to tie up everything in the fifth book. Or maybe it will be a spin-off book/series or something like that. We’ll see…)

I also have at least one more standalone/companion novella planned (from Apate’s POV). At one point I had some thoughts for a prequel novella that would take place long, long ago and center on Eros and Psyche, so maybe I’ll revisit that at some point.

So, in summary: There will be more things coming, at some point! And they will be good things you will hopefully like. 😉