My Book Marketing Plan

After releasing four books, I’ve tweaked and retweaked my new-release marketing plan. I’d love feedback on ways to improve it, but here’s what I have so far.

First, I release a first in a series at 99 cents for 8 days, though when I release Fur & Feathers, I may try a release at full price ($2.99). The reason for 99 cents is to encourage sales and hope that the Amazon algorithms pick it up to be “sticky.”

Here’s my advertising plan:

Paid Promos: Schedule about $100 of paid promos (This also helps with Kindle unlimited page reads) I learned that more promos is not worth it, as you end up hitting the same readers over and over.
Newsletter Swaps: Participate in as many newsletter swaps as possible – make sure to have a sign up and require proof they shared. Also, send a reminder/confirmation, otherwise, sometimes I think the other authors forget to do their end of the swap. Honestly, I think with the right network of authors & newsletters, you could do a release solely on free swaps.
Multi Author Cross Promo: Sign up for as many KU or 99 cent sales as you can find.
Create your own KU & 99 Cent Cross Promo if not many are available during your release week. I did this, you can see what they looked like HERE (99 cents) or HERE (KU)
Daycause campaign: Create & ask for support. I used to use Headtalker, but they went out of business. Thunderclap is another one, but you need so many supporters, I fear I’d work hard and my campaign would never be published.
Social Media: Post on all channels you utilize. I think, at some point, I need to break into you tube.
Schedule twitter & facebook posts
Blog Post
Boost Facebook Post: People who like your page & their friends. This has been the most effective for me.
Genre Targeted – I haven’t found much success with this yet.
AMS Ad: Begin selecting keywords early.
My Newsletter: Send on day 2 or so. Resend in 24 hours to non-openers or do the below.
Non-openers (a thank you on my new release) – Day 6
Non-openers (gmail-repeat last email) – Day 8
Other Bookbub email – automatic, work on gaining follows
Amazon email – automatic, work on gaining follows
KDROi promos
Misc Ideas Goodreads Giveaway
Amazon Giveaway
Sample Chapters on Instafreebies
Schedule a Facebook Hop
Blot tour?
Post on reader facebook pages?
Goodreads Lists?

So what does it all look like? Here’s how my release of Hidden: A Pregnant Fairy Godmother’s Journey went. I don’t follow the plan above perfectly, but it serves as a guide. Of note, I couldn’t promote using some of my favorite paid promo sites because of my story being a novella or they were booked when I contacted them. Also, some of the paid sights below, I wouldn’t use again due to lack of sales.

Date Price Promo 1 Promo 2
11/7/2017 pre-order Reader’s Gazette 1 Author Newsletter Swap
11/8/2017 pre-order
11/9/2017 $0.99 Facebook
AMS

My Kindle Unlimited Promo

KDROi (until the 14th)
1 Author Newsletter Swap

Bookbub Email (automatic)

11/10/2017 $0.99 Book Sends/eReader IQ
Amazon New Release Email
Choosy Bookworm
My Mailing List (List 1 – 1st 1/2)
11/11/2017 $0.99 Book Runes My Mailing List (List 1 – 2nd 1/2)
Resend Mailing list 1 (1st) after 25 hrs
11/12/2017 $0.99 Romancing the Dragon Blog Post
Resend Mailing List 1 (2nd) after 25 hrs
11/13/2017 $0.99 Fussy Librarian Author Newsletter Swap
11/14/2017 $0.99 eReader Café 3 Author Newsletter Swaps
11/15/2017 $0.99 Awesome Gang 2 Author Newsletter Swaps
11/16/2017 $0.99 BK Knights 1 Author Newsletter Swap
11/17/2017 $0.99 My 99 Cent Promo My Mailing List (list 2)
1 Author Newsletter Swap
11/18/2017 $0.99 My 99 Cent Promo
Light UF Promo
My Mailing List again (list 2)
11/19/2017 $0.99 My 99 Cent Promo
Light UF Promo
11/20/2017 $2.99
11/21/2017 $2.99
11/22/2017 $2.99

How am I doing so far? Okay, but I have four more days to go at 99 cents. Someday I’d love to discover the secret formula, but I think massive sales takes a bit of luck as well. Here are my Amazon sales charts so far:

hidden release

And don’t forget, I hit #1 in a category (humorous fantasy) and earned the elusive Amazon best seller ribbon. Both of which are a huge win for me!!!

Hidden #1Hidden best seller

Oh, and I saw my name on the same page with two of my favorite authors, Patricia Briggs & Robin McKinley. You can’t put a price tag on that one.

schultz mckinley briggs.png

So, what marketing am I missing? What’s worked for you?

Posted in Hidden, My Writing Journey | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Four Books Later, I Finally Hit #1

That’s right. I finally did it!

Hidden #1

Hidden: A Pregnant Fairy Godmother’s Journey hit #1, and I received the elusive Amazon Best Seller orange tag!

Hidden best seller

And it didn’t take many sales. The day it hit number one, I sold 50 copies.

The key was a good cover, a little bit of the right advertising, and picking the correct categories for the book. Here are a few tidbits:

  1. The right cover: I’ve finally given in. I did make my Hidden Cover, but moving forward, I think I’ll be hiring cover designers. I reached out to one of my favorite designers to work on redoing Blood & Holy Water & making one for book 2 & 3 in this series.
  2. The right advertising: Having a group of authors that help support this project has helped me bring in sales (if you haven’t read my blog about the “Hidden” project, check it out HERE.) I’ve also developed a new release spreadsheet/plan that works on multiple angels of advertising, including paid promos, newsletter swaps, social media, cross promo with other authors, and Amazon/Bookbub notifications. Someday, I’ll write a blog about this — if you want a copy sooner, just comment below.
  3. The right categories: Yeah, this makes all the difference. There’s a whole mess of sites about getting into specific categories, but what I do is just browse every ebook category on Amazon, write down which ones I want, then contact Amazon (thorough author central) to add my book where I’d like it. This article has been helpful. I go right to step 3.

Oh, and a bonus to all of this…my reviews are coming in better than I expected. I have 18 reviews so far (it released three days ago,) and I’m currently averaging a 4.6 stars!

Now, my next goal: figuring out how to get “sticky” on Amazon. First, I’ll have to write more books!

Thanks for sticking with me & my writing journey.

Talk to you again soon!

 

Posted in Hidden, Marketing, My Writing Journey | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Sneak Peek of Fur & Feathers

Angels of SojournAs some of you know, I’m trying NaNoWriMo again this year. I know I won’t be able to hit the 50,000 word goal, but if I write half of that, I’ll be happy!

To celebrate writing my first 3 chapters of Fur & Feathers: Angels of Sojourn Book 2, I’m being brave and sharing my completely unedited, un-beta-read first chapter of my first draft.

Blurb:

Katrina Hartley is determined to protect her five-year-old werewolf son, but when the boy’s accused of a gruesome attack during the recent full moon, Katrina must clear her son’s name…only she’s not sure where the child was during the full moon. When one clue after another points towards her son, she never expected the help of a fallen angel.

After recently falling, angel Simon Parker searches for his long-lost family and his place in the human world, all the while trying to forget about the woman he loved for nearly 100 years. When a desperate mother crosses his path, he can’t help but wanting to feel useful again…even if she doesn’t want his help.


Chapter 1

 

SIMON

The moonlight filtered through the pine boughs and cast long shadows across the front of the old fieldstone home. Tucked a few steps into the neighboring forest, Simon leaned against an oak tree watching for a sign someone was home.

After two weeks of waiting, his stomach still danced in anticipation for meeting his family…again.

He pushed himself tighter to the tree, enjoying the uncomfortable sensation of the bumps digging into his back. Since falling from Sojourn six months ago, he hadn’t got used to his heightened sense of touch, especially in a spot that had held wings for over two hundred years.

The other thing he hadn’t gotten used to was not having a purpose in life. He’d always taken pride in his position as head angel advisor, but now, he was nothing but a washed-up angel in love with a woman he could never have.

And he wasn’t even waiting in front of that woman’s home. In fact, he was on the other side of the country, in Maine, avoiding her, waiting outside his old family estate and attempting to relish in the memories from when he was human…the first time.

If you call the limbo he was in being human.

Every night for the past two weeks he had been coming here under the cover of the pines and oaks, trying to get up enough courage to knock on the door. To announce that he was their long, dead great, great grandfather. His family had to still live here, as the mailbox at the end of the windy driveway still said “Parker.” A couple with mostly gray hair lived in the home now. Simon tried to find the resemblance to his wife, or perhaps himself, but failed. How would these people take his news?

When a shadow drifted in front of a window, towards a large mahogany door, Simon jerked forward.

Perhaps now was the time.

This whole dream was ridiculous. They wouldn’t know him, and how would he explain? Would he reveal his hidden wings then make them pull out some old war photos and show them the resemblance? Would they even believe him? Humans were always so skeptical – always looking for the trick.

Could he ever make up for what he lost so many years ago?

Do it. You have to. Why else are you on earth?

Taking a deep breath, he stood tall and took a step towards the small home.

From beside him, a snap came from the woods, halting his progress. He flicked his head in that direction.

When the snapping of branches and feet thumping against the dirt grew louder, Simon stepped out of the moonlight and returned to the shadow of the oak.

On a small, worn trail emerged a sprinting pup. Its front and back legs were moving fast and when the pup turned a corner toward Simon, it’s legs flew out from underneath it, sending it tumbling on its side.

“Whatcha doing?” Simon whispered, squatting down to help the pup over.

The pup flipped to its feet without assistance, and when it flicked it’s head up, the its yellow-green eyes widened at the sight of Simon. It darted around again, brushing a pine bow out of the way as it turned back into the woods down a different path.

Out from the pup’s trail came a gentle rustling of branches and shuffling of fine gravel. Simon stood and tilted his chin. Another dog?

A light shadow moved from behind the trees and before Simon could process what was happening, a beautiful, white wolf leapt into the clearing, plowing right into Simon, knocking him to the ground with a thump.

With a racing heart and all the air knocked from his lungs, for a moment all he could do was look into the wolf’s knowing eyes. As the beast leaned down to sniff…or bite his neck, he stepped into Sojourn and transported himself behind a boulder just far enough to be out of the wolf’s way.

How did humans survive without special abilities?

The wolf’s head jerked left, then right, then put its nose to the ground and followed the trail the pup had taken.

Was the big wolf hunting the smaller one?

Simon felt a tingle in his chest, the pull of a miracle.

Could it be fallen angels get miracles, too?

Even if it wasn’t possible, it had been a while since he had done something for someone else…

Ignore it. Those are only animals.

Simon returned his gaze to his family home and focused on the peacefulness of it.

But his stomach still tingled, pulling him back into the woods, away from the house.

Oh, Great Angels. You can’t ignore a miracle.

Hiding in the shadow’s of Sojorn, he transported himself along the path of the white wolf until the animals came in sight. The wolf had tackled the young one, pinning it down and growling. Simon’s heart raced at the sight of the sharp white teeth reflecting the moonlight.

Taking a deep breath, he stepped from the shadows right beside the wolf. With all his might, Simon threw his body into the animal and knocked it over while keeping his eyes on the wolf’s fangs, prepared to transport away if it went in for a taste.

The wolf shook its head, dazed, and Simon used this to his advantage. He scooped the pup into his arms, holding its snout closed with his hand, and transported…

Oh no.

He tried again, thinking of the mattress he’d been calling home for the past two weeks.

Nothing.

He didn’t budge.

The white wolf snarled in front of him as it stalked closer. Simon turned the pup in his arm, squeezing it tightly against his body with one hand. Twisting around, he scrambled to the closest pine and gripped a branch above his head. With all his might, he hefted himself up, grateful that angels, fallen or not, were stronger than humans. His feet found two limbs and he steadied himself, climbing up and feeling his fingers stick to the sap-filled tree limbs.

Beneath him, the wolf growled and nipped at his shoe. Simon scrambled to pull himself up another branch, but the beast’s teeth sank into the sole. Simon kicked it off, continuing to climb. One branch after another and he hefted himself and the pup up. When the wolf’s growls grew silent, he turned down and a rush of dizziness hit him.

Who ever heard of an angel afraid of heights.

He hugged the tree trunk tightly and turned to sit on a thick limb…and at that moment, the pup bit the lapel of his jacket.

He jerked, wanting to throw it down, but from this height, it would mean the animal’s death. Leaning back against the limb and balancing steady, he looked up into the nearly full moon and pulled the wolf back, clasping his mouth shut once again.

Once Simon’s heart stopped pounding, he focused on the sounds of rustling leaves, breaking pine branches, and something else loud, but unidentifiable from below. “Holy Sojourn. What are we going to do?”

The pup whined.

In a moment, the noises stopped and the forest grew eerily silent.

“We did it,” Simon said, focusing on the tingle still in his chest. Was saving the pup not his miracle?

He tried to transport back to the ground, but, once again, nothing happened. What was wrong with his abilities?

Simon took a deep breath, tightened his grip on a branch, and glanced down. He hadn’t climbed up far. He could get down, if only he didn’t look.

Twisting in the tree and holding on tight, he lowered one foot down, searching for a branch.

“Let him go!” came a woman’s voice from below.

Simon jumped, hugging the tree tighter.

“Thank you ma’am, but be careful. There’s a wolf in the woods.”

The woman sighed. “You’re holding a wolf. Let him go. I’m sure he wants to get back to his mother.”

His mother?

Simon glanced down at the woman, and before another rush of dizziness hit him, he was certain he saw a woman, completely naked, using a few pine boughs to shield her body.

“Oh, great miracle!” he exclaimed. “Um…I’m not coming down with you naked below me.”

A heavy huff came from the woman, “Fine. Let me get my clothes,” she said as she stormed away.

 

KATRINA

 Katrina kept one eye on the man holding her son as she edged herself to the white fence surrounding the home. She pulled the pale blue dress off a post she had left it on and pulled it over her head. “There,” she called, spinning around to the man sitting on a branch, clutching her son, and covering his eyes with his free hand. “I have clothing on, you can look.”

Truth be told, she didn’t know when she’d get used to running around in the woods naked. Did anyone get used to that? But she’d do anything to ensure her son was safe. She’d even galivant through downtown Portland bare-skinned, if that’s what it took.

As she returned to the foot of the giant yellow pine, the tree’s slightly citrus scent flooded her sensitive sense of smell. There was another scent there…one she couldn’t quite identify, yet was familiar.

“Okay, give me the wolf pup,” she called up the tree in her sweetest, calmest voice, despite the turmoil spinning inside.

She took another whiff of the air, confirming the man was not a wolf… She had gotten a good whiff when she knocked him over. He was not wolf, for sure…but she wasn’t certain he was human either. He smelled slightly of cinnamon—a scent that had been prevalent in this forest for the past few weeks.

“You better not bite me,” he warned the pup as he shifted it in his long arms.

Katrina reached her arms up. “He wouldn’t have bitten onto you if you’d let him alone.”

“I saved him from that other wolf.” The man attempted to lower himself down, but his foot missed the branch and he stood there, in the tree.

“That wolf…was his mother! Now, I’ll need to find her to reunite them.” The man hadn’t moved. His knuckles white from gripping the tree. “You’re not afraid of heights, are you? Do I need to call the fire department to get you a ladder?” Katrina couldn’t help her laugh. The big tall man afraid to be up twenty feet or so. The man swayed in the tree. “Stop. Don’t move,” Katrina yelled, thinking of the worst case. What if the man let go of the pup?

Branch by branch, Katrina climbed until she was beside the man. Contrasting with his nearly black hair, his vivid blue eyes almost seemed to glow in the dark. Did her yellowish ones look the same way? Katrina leaned forward and gave him a cautious whiff. The cinnamon scent was strong…and he had no scent that reminded her of human. The usual metallic, salty human odor was absent.

She leaned closer and gave another whiff.

“What are you doing, smelling me? You’re not a vampire, are you?”

Vampire?

What did this man know?

Katrina snatched the pup from the man’s arms and pulled away. “Who are you?”

“My name’s Simon.”

Katrina left him in the tree, climbing down as fast as she could. “No. I meant WHAT are you?”

A nervous laugh. “Just a normal guy…”

When Katrina’s feet hit the soft pine forest floor, she let out a nervous laugh. “A normal guy outside at night…window peeping.”

She dropped her son to the ground and they both took off running.

A man outside at night…who isn’t afraid of a wolf.

Who seemed to believe vampires are real.

Protect Alex at all costs.

When Katrina was certain she was out of sight, she whipped the dress over her head and shifted into her wolf form in one huge leap. When she caught up to Alex, she nipped his heels, urging him to run faster. Daylight was coming and they needed to be home before anyone spotted them.

To read Book 1 in the Angels of Sojourn series, Blood & Holy Water Click HERE.

To read Katrina’s story for free, check out Bitten in my free giveaway, Quick Escape, Fantasy Tales HERE.

 

 

Posted in Blood & Holy Water, My Writing Journey, NaNoWriMo | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Hidden: One Title. Endless Possibilities.

I’d like to officially introduce everyone to a project I’ve been working on since spring. You’ve all read about my novella, Hidden: A Pregnant Fairy Godmother’s Journey… Well, this was written as a part of a 70+ author collaborative where we each wrote a story with the same title: Hidden.

Confusing, right?

When you see the variety in the covers, it’s not confusing at all, just take a look at these October/November releases.

HIDDEN (1)

Each author could write any story they like, in any genre they enjoy, as long as it has the title, Hidden. Then, once weekly, a book is released…and we’re booked out into 2019!

The purpose of the project–besides having fun–was to connect indie authors for cross-promotion. Hopefully, when someone reads my eBook, they find another one of the Hidden authors and read their book as well. (Those that are interested in the outcome of this, don’t worry, I’ll blog about it sometime during this project.)

You can follow along on our website or with any of our social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram) to see what this fantastic group of authors came up with, or simply sign up for our newsletter to receive updates of the current new releases.

Here’s what’s in store until the end of November:

Here’s October/November’s Releases:

October 26thCheck this out HERE.

Laura Greenwood – Dystopian RH Fairy Tale Retelling

November 2ndCheck this out HERE.

Alasdair Shaw – Military SF

November 9thCheck this out HERE.

Joynell Schultz – Quirky Fairy Tale / Urban Fantasy / Romance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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November 16thCheck this out HERE. 

Troy McLaughlan – Dystopian Science Fiction Adventure

November 23rdCheck this out HERE.

Deidra D. S. Green – thriller, murder mystery and suspense

 November 30thCheck this out HERE. 

A.J. McWain – Post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t wait to see all 70+ covers, side-by-side, in 2019 when this project concludes…and, of course, read every one of these titles!

Posted in Hidden, Marketing, My Writing Journey | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

1000 True Fans – 14000 Readers in 10 Months.

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Wow!

Ten months has passed since I started my quest for 1000 True Fans. I was diligent in posting until an accident with my father had my life flipped upside down. Behind the scenes, though, I still plugged away, trying to grow my mailing list.

In these ten months, my mailing list grew to over 14000 readers…and is still growing, but, at the same time, I’m working on cutting out people that appear that they’ll never be a true fan. I want to maintain an ACTIVE list that sits around 10,000 subscribers. (Why 10,000? Purely a balance between being effective…and cost effective.)

So, of these 14000, how many are true fans?

Honestly, not that many…but enough. When I send out an email, only about 30-40% of the people open it…and 7% click on any links. So, of 14,000 people that’s about 4500 opening the email and 1000 clicking something…but mostly freebies/giveaways.

A good test of my true fans is to see how many of my newsletter subscribers clicked the link to purchase my latest new releases.

  • I sent Witch or Treat out to about 4000 subscribers. Of these, I had 211 click the link to purchase on Amazon.
  • I sent The Secret Lives of Superhero Wives out to about 10,000 subscribers, and I only had about 100 clicks…but many of my true fans are on my advanced reader team or ordered it on pre-order. All in all, I sold over 500 books in the month since it’s been released. (Still not at 1000 true fans.)

So, on this journey for 1000 true fans, this is what I’ve learned so far.

Your best fans come from slow, organic growth. Patiently waiting for people to read your books, fall in love with your writing style, and join your mailing list (or follow you on BookBub/ Facebook/Etc.)

  • I get a few organic sign ups every day…and that’s because I have stories out there. The more I publish, the more signups I receive. I adore little notes on how they fell in love with some of my characters or love my book.
  • The key here is to ensure joining your mailing list is visible in your printed books. I have a nice page in the beginning of the book and another link at the end (see the graphic I posted below.) I also have links on my Facebook page, website, and amazon bio about all the ways to follow me.If you enjoyed... (3)

Participating in anthologies, has been more effective than I expected in extending my reach. I have spurred a lot of new interest in my Superhero Wife World through my short story published in Witch or Treat. This brought me a lot of exposure to fans who enjoy stories like mine. I have another short story coming out in 12 Days of Christmas which I hope brings similar results. I’d love to have a full novel in a box set someday.

Participating in freebie giveaways is not a bad thing, as long as you don’t allow dead weight to sit on your list & cost you money. (When I say “dead weight” I mean those that use false emails or a separate email account they never use to redeem freebies. I love anyone who opens my emails, whether they click or not.) What I like about having some stories out there for free, is they attract readers I wouldn’t have run across any other way. I classify these giveaways into two groups: Individual downloads where a reader is interested in your book specifically and downloads the story or group email collection where a reader enters a contest to win free stuff and all the hosting authors receive the email address.

Either way, these are much faster ways to grow your list…and some, like the huge multi-author group email collections, can get you up to 5,000 emails in a few months. I was in a Science Fiction & Fantasy paperback giveaway this summer that brought me 5000 subscribers, but note, of these, only 1100 are still on my list…and of these, only about 300 have ever clicked a link. BUT, don’t discredit this. It’s a wide net, but if I end up with 100 true fans from this, I’m happy.

These mailing list signups that come from freebie giveaways are are like like running sand through a sifter. Most of the small grains pass through, but when all the dust settles, you’re still left with a few good pebbles…or fans in your sifter. Most of my Advanced Reader Team has come from this method, and they are wonderful to work with. I also have some close fans that sprung from a few freebies. Also note, many people sit on your list and haven’t had time to read your stories yet. Most of the time, they open an email here and there, and I appreciate the casual interest.

Another tip is a good automation/welcome series can help trim out some of the sand that is passing through. I send a three to four part series and if someone doesn’t open any of them, I send them one more titled Have you been receiving my emails? from a different email account. If nothing is opened, I remove them from my list. If they open the one from gmail, they get added to my “send from gmail only” list.

My frustrations!

Even with this solid mailing list, many of my emails to “true” fans are filtered out by the readers’ email service. Google throws them in their “Promotions” tab while other services filter them to spam because they’re from a mailing list. Its frustrating not to be able to contact my loyal readers.

To overcome this, I’m focusing more on growing different social media channels instead.

Facebook is my favorite, so I’m trying to use it more. I have twitter, but don’t find much engagement. Facebook has been good to me. I’m diversifying my posts to add more variety and interest. Check out my page HERE. I started posting about my life running a zoo. Cute/Fuzzy animals always gets some attention. What I don’t like, is Facebook still filters out who see’s your posts…unless you pay to promote it.

Also, I’m trying to grow other services. With each new release, BookBub sends an alert to my followers. Amazon does the same thing, so I’m trying to get my readers to follow me on these two platforms. (Shameless plug: Follow me on BookBub HERE and Amazon HERE.)

In Summary! (I know, this has been a long post.)

My goal is to filter out the dead weight on my newsletter and add in quality subscribers. What I’m learning is it’s a never ending process. New people in, old people out until your left with a tight list of loyal followers.

The best followers come organically…and the best way to get these is simple: WRITE MORE BOOKS AND BE IN MORE PUBLICATIONS!

Thanks for following my journey! I’ll update again when I learn more. If you’ve been following my growth, here’s how my audience has changed in 2017.

Copy of operation_

If you want to get caught up on 2017’s journey to find 1000 fans, check out the 1000 “True” Fan Landing Page.

Do you have any tips for me? I’d love to hear!

I’d also love to answer any questions you have.

 

Posted in 1000 True Fans, Marketing, My Writing Journey | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Magic in the World Around Us

Since I write speculative fiction, I’m always dreaming up some magical world or a world where science is pushed a little beyond it’s current limits. Sometimes while I’m thinking up superheros, angels, and human clones, I get detached from the real world and forget the magical things that surround me — in real life!

For example:

This past summer, I changed my branding to have the northern lights in the background. This phenomenon makes me wonder where science and magic come together.

Joynell Schultz (1)

Stare into the night sky. How is it possible that the galaxy goes on forever? Each of those stars is the equivalent of our sun…and is there other life out there? The concept alone is magical…not to mention how many stars are in the sky.

night sky

The bumble bee. Really, any animal in flight impresses me, but just look at the aerodynamics of this little creature. I think I read somewhere that by pure physics, their flight shouldn’t be possible.

Bee

A simple light bulb. It’s more of the electricity it represents. How is it possible for these little electrons to flow through wiring and do so much for us? And when you’re not using it, it sits in the wires, waiting.

Light Bulb

Okay, okay. You’re telling me none of this is magic — it’s science, but I think science is pretty cool. We humans only know a tiny fraction about what surrounds us. Even the human brain is amazing and not understood. To me, it’s magical…

As I thought more and more about this topic, I asked my newsletter subscribers what they find magical and a little different perspective was neat to hear. Here is what they had to say.

Serendipitous coincidences!  If you read about a coincidence in a book, it seems contrived, darn it!  But in real life, they usually spell love or a new job or something delicious.”

A word is so much more than just the combination of its letters (it has a meaning, which might be quite powerful) and a book (or any text that makes sense; it might just be a “simple” question) is more than all its individual words (I knew all the words before, but when you combine them, you are creating something new). Of course, some words and some books are more magical to me, but the idea that you can create all that (a powerful tool, which can change those who read it) with just the right combination of letters (just a finite set of characters, already known to all)… That’s magic!”

The beginning of life, both the emergence of life on earth in the distant past and the beginning of a new life in the present. Suddenly, something or someone is there that wasn’t there before. Magic!”

So, I’d love to hear.

What do you find magical in the world around you?

Simply post in the comments below.

Do You Give Your Book (1)

 

Posted in My Writing Journey | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Sneak Peek of “Hidden: A Pregnant Fairy Godmother’s Journey…”

I’ve been polishing up my first novella, Hidden: A Pregnant Fairy Godmother’s Journey… and I wanted to share it with you.

This is part of a multi-author project where everyone writes a story titled, “Hidden.” The stories can be any length the author wants and in any genre. We all will have them showcased on a group “Hidden” webpage and link to this page in the back matter of the book.

Okay…here’s my cover:

Hidden Cover

And the blurb:

Even being the best fairy godmother in all the land, Ciera’s been hiding a secret. Not only is she pregnant, but she’s magically pregnant with a human child.

Humans are not allowed in the fairy realm. Period. That includes half-fairy half-human babies. The only solution is to give the baby to its father before the Fairy Council finds out her secret. Finding the father should be easy, how many men named John could possibly live in this place called Chicago?

…and the sneek peek!

**Remember, this is not the final, polished manuscripts and is subject to beta readers and editing yet.**

YOU CAN FIND THIS ON AMAZON PRE-ORDER HERE FOR 99 CENTS.


Chapter 1

 

Ciera

 

Under the violet-tinted sun, Ciera tapped her wand against her hand and forced a calming breath. She focused on the light breeze tickling her face and the sweet, almost undetectable scent of the rainbow high in the sky.

My glamor will stay—it must.

To a fairy godmother like Ciera, a simple glamor spell to change your physical appearance should be easy. Heck, it had always been easy for Ciera, but now, in her current predicament, her magic was weak and drained too quickly.

In eight more months, her abilities would return. Could she keep pretending that long?

“Are you sure this will feed us forever? It’s such a small garden plot.” A farmer stood in front of Ciera. His hair was a vibrant copper color that complemented his worn, brown leather trousers. A little girl in his arms tightened her hold around her father neck. Her red hair blending in with her father’s as she buried her face in his neck.

Ciera stopped tapping her wand and waved it towards the tilled soil tucked against a plain, tigerwood fence. “You think that’s small? You should have seen what I did with a few empty wine barrels on the other side of town. Trust me. You have nothing to worry about.”

A shiver of magic flowed up her spine and wrapped itself around her stomach. She looked down at her belly in time to see her glamor enchantment flicker. Did he notice? She jerked her head towards the farmer to see him focused on his daughter.

Ciera shifted her weight from foot to foot. “We need to get moving though. I…um…have stuff to do.”

Ciera scooted across the yard to dig her toes into the small patch of tilled-up sand. No matter how much love Erdians gave the nutrient-poor soil, stuff still wouldn’t grow without fairy intervention. The cool and dry dirt softly tickled her feet as she walked across it.

Even with her dying magic, she could easily turn such a small area into fertile soil. She had fertilized fields as far as the eye could see for many royal families. She tapped her wand against her hand. “No problem. Your wish is my command. Dibbity, dobbity, doo!” Ciera gave a little wink toward the man; her signature move.

She channeled her magic into the wand. The current flowed as slow as honey today, growing slower day-by-day.

How long will I be able to put up this charade?

The magic seized-up, not wanting to budge. She shook her head and tried again. Reaching deep inside her core, she warmed the honey to make it flow faster. Staring at the tip of the wand, she waited for the golden glow.

One flicker, then another, but then her magic dissolved into nothingness.

The glamor she created to hide her growing belly dissolved and her flat stomach disappeared, revealing her true abdomen size, giant, like the size of one of those leather balls royalty throws through hoops. Ciera pulled all the magic she could find, from everywhere; inside her heart, from back home, and even the little bit that resided in Erde and rewove the glamor around her, disguising her pregnancy.

This time, when she jerked her head up toward the father, his eyes were wide. She needed a distraction. “Um, do you have a glass of water?” Queasiness overtook Ciera as she plopped down on a petrified dragon egg lining the garden.

When the man disappeared into his house,  Ciera released all her magic to give it time to recharge. She placed her hand on her stomach as she tried to regain control.

“What are you doing to me?” she whispered while rubbing her belly. “This is way too early, I still have eight months left. How am I going to hide you without magic?” Inside her stomach, the child swirled. It had been doing this more and more lately. It took seventeen months to grow a baby fairy, and Ciera had been pregnant for nine. A stomach this size was impossible at this point.

An image of the baby’s father flashed through her mind. Gray well-groomed hair and kind, brown eyes that seemed almost desperate. When she first realized he wasn’t a fairy, she had been disappointed. She had passed him off as an Erdian, but now she wasn’t so sure.

What if he had been human?

How long did it take to grow one of their babies? And if this was a human child, did that explain the odd behavior of her magic?

Stop thinking about that!

The human realm was off limits, and the other fairies would certainly shun her—she had worked so hard to earn her status with her peers.

Footsteps approached, and she wrapped herself in the glamor once again.

“How are you feeling?” The man handed over a copper-hammered cup filled with water while holding his child in the other arm.

“Like a dragon flying upside down.” The cool drink did nothing to alleviate her nausea. Her anxiety was making her sick to her stomach, and she needed to get in control of it. “Now, let’s give this another shot.” She stood up and raked her eyes over the sandy soil. She focused on her magic, but all she found was a hollow void where the baby grew.

She pulled harder, fighting with the child in a game of tug-of-war. She pulled one way, and the baby pulled another. When Ciera felt she had a good grip on a strand of magic, she quickly shoved it down her arm and into her wand.

Quick, Ciera. Hurry. You can’t fail.

“Dibbity, dobbity, doo!” She zapped at the soil, filling her mind with images of rich green vegetation and plum red fruits. The ground quivered with a ripple of light, and parts of the soil turned from pink and yellow sand to black dirt…but not all of it.

Shaking her head, she searched again for her magic. She found a tendril connected to her glamor and pulled and stretched it, but then realized the baby grasp was tighter than hers. She gave a yank and shot the magic down her arm and into her wand before there was a protest. Quickly, she gave the garden another zap. “Dobbity, do!”

This time, nothing happened.

“I’m sorry.” She felt her magic recoil into the child inside her. A ripple shot through her spine, and her glamor quivered again. “I’m still not feeling well, and my magic’s not behaving quite right.”

“But you’re the best. Your Fairy Council assured me.” The man squeezed his child’s hand.

The toddler’s eyes held dark circles beneath them—she was hungry. The father was already too thin. Ciera couldn’t let them starve.

Come on, baby. Cooperate.

Sweat tickled Ciera’s brow as she focused on any magic she still had. She clenched all her muscles and forced the magic back into her wand. As soon as it appeared, she zapped the egg she had been sitting on. A simple spell on a smaller object, turning the fossil into a roasted platypus surrounded by magic beans on a silver platter.

Ciera wiped her brow, and her chest heaved. “I’ll be back when I’m better. For now,” she caught her breath, “eat the platypus and trade the platter and magic beans for some fruits and veggies. Magic beans are in high demand, maybe you can even get a cow for them.”

With that, Ciera tried to transport herself to the fairy realm, but that didn’t work. She probably looked ridiculous, squishing her eyes shut and waving her wand around her head. Argh! “I’m just going to leave through the gate and take a walk.”

Before the man said anything, the gate swung shut behind Ciera as she jogged down the dusty, yellow road with her wings flapping for speed and an arm wrapped around her unglamored belly for support.

I need to get home to my father. He’ll know what I should do.

How could she not complete an assignment? She hadn’t found a long-term solution for that hungry man and child. Could she go home a failure? It’d wreck her reputation, and the other fairies would wonder how this was possible. They’d figure out her secret.

Deep breath, Ciera. Rest. Let the magic recharge.

But what if this was a human baby?

That gray-haired man Ciera had met in a dream had a machine for one of his arms.. Erde didn’t have contraptions like that…did the humans? It didn’t make sense because fairies hadn’t crossed over to the human realm in a hundred years.

Her grandfather’s words haunted her: But you’re not a normal fairy. You’re a purple fairy.

She had always dismissed him as just flattering her…but maybe some of what he said was right?

No, Ciera. You’re like everyone else…only you have to work twice as hard because you want to be the best.

Maybe she could hide here in Erde. She loved this world with its warm violet sun, green grass, and the smell of the sea. She used to spend all her free time here, but over the past few months, her fading magic would no longer allow it. If she stayed too long, she’d lose her ability to fly, to grant wishes, and, perhaps her ability to return home.

Now, with the thought that the child could be human, there was no way she could stay. The Fairy Council would surely find her and discover her secret and…she lost her breath thinking the next thought…shun her family from the fairy realm.

Ciera detoured off the yellow dirt road and ventured into the forest, finding a patch of minty smelling moss. She lay down and began to drift asleep, nearly certain that the baby was human. There was no other explanation.

Focusing on what she could remember from nine months ago, she tried to figure out what went wrong

She had just granted King Wren’s wish for an appropriate suitor for the princess. This had taken way too long, yet she was the fourth fairy godmother on the project and the first to succeed.

She returned home that day, completely exhausted from hours of sending her magic out searching all the neighboring kingdoms and fell asleep wondering what was next. She felt like she could take on the world. A brief thought passed through her mind if there would be even bigger challenges on Earth, but she dismissed that idea.

The human realm was off limits.

But she wanted a challenge, and that world tugged strongly at her as she fell asleep.

She dreamt of a man with whitish gray hair and these dark, intense eyes. The most prominent thing was his arm made of silver. Her desire to grant a wish pulled strongly on her, taking over her logic. She didn’t even know what wish she was granting, but knew what she had to do.

“Lift your hands,” she had said.

He lifted one hand and pointed his index finger, then lifted his other. A claw or hook of some type. She touched a finger to both of his hands, smiling with pleasure as a bright violet light traveled down the man’s non-silver arm, through his finger, and transferred to Ciera. It traveled up her arm and her belly tingled when it settled there. She left feeling complete.

It wasn’t until a three months ago she discovered her pregnancy, and it wasn’t until well after that she began to wonder if that man was human. She kept pushing that thought away, not understanding how that was possible. Who heard of humans with robotic arms? She had dismissed it as some type of glamor magic.

Besides, for a fairy pregnancy, all ten of their fingers must touch in their dreams and a yellow light transfers. Quite different from what had happened.

The Fairy Council wouldn’t understand. Fairy godmothers always had control of their dreams…but this one was different.

The man…the human must have wished for a child…and for some reason, she granted it. Ciera never could refuse a wish…especially a wish that was not for wealth or prosperity, but a wish that came from the heart…

How could that be wrong?

 

I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek. 🙂 Have a great day.

–Joy

Book Spotlight

 

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