Created for Christmas: 12/4 – 21 Days ’till Christmas

***Note: This is an unedited FIRST DRAFT of this story. You can also read it on Wattpad HERE.

Get caught up with Chapter 1 HERE:

A Serial Novella (1)

Chapter 2

“I don’t see how making a man is a good idea. How can a robot be a lifelong companion?” The tiny straw my sister stirred her rum & Coke with sent the ice clanking against her glass.

“He won’t be a robot, Iris.” My two closest sisters, Iris and Ivory, gave the excuse of helping me gather some refreshments for the rest of my family who sat around the Christmas tree in the living room. I knew they were just dying for the gossip how my appointment at Dream Droids went. I pulled out a barstool and sat between them happy to fill them in. Sharkey, my great Dane, rested his head upon my lap and while I absentmindedly ran his soft, floppy ear between my fingers. “He’s a humanoid. Made to resemble and act just like a human.”

“I think it’s kinda romantic.” Ivory pulled back her long, wavy blond hair to show me her sweet smile.

“I don’t get the difference.” Iris stared into her drink and continued to fiddle with the straw.

Dayton had gone through all this with me during our initial phone conversations. He said many people wouldn’t understand what I was doing and education was key to help them see my perspective. “A robot is built to do a task, to make human existence easier. A maid, a worker at a factory, even crossing guards. Now, a humonoid is a machine designed with artificial intelligence. He’ll be able to read my facial expressions and change his responses. He’ll learn things and grow. He’ll be able to have a conversation about the news with me…with programming that gives him opinions and the ability to debate.”

“Either way, he’s artificial.” Iris pulled her straw away and took a sip of her drink. She was never one to keep her opinions to herself.

As I looked down into my dog’s big brown eyes, Ivory came to my defense. “I see a lot of good in it.”

“Like what?” Iris’s green eyes were wide.

Ivory ran her hand down Sharky’s spine and eyed me with a sympathetic expression. “Like he’ll never die. Ivy will never have to be alone.”

I cringed. Of course, Ivory didn’t want to help me through another period of depression like I experienced after Niles left. I didn’t think she’d survive—I knew I wouldn’t.

“I don’t know,” Iris said. “I could never choose plastic and wires over real-life flesh and blood.”

“He won’t be just plastic and wires.” I lifted Sharky’s head off my lap and hopped off my bar stool. “He’ll have a personality and be…real. At least as real as possible.”

“Iris, I think you’d feel differently if you weren’t newly engaged and head-over-heals in love.” Ivory nodded to the rest of our family in my living room. “I’m surprised you were able to sneak away from Max, anyway. He’s usually glued to your side like Sharky is to Ivy’s.”

Iris’s eyes lit up as a sly smiled filled her face. “I said Ivy had a secret to talk about.” She winked at me.

“My humanoid is not a secret. Everyone knows.”

“Yeah, but it worked. Sometimes, I need a little private sister time with my favorite sisters.” I gave Iris a look like she should be ashamed of herself. “Don’t judge me. We’ll always have a special bond that nobody can overcome.” She had a point. Being a triplet was something unique. We shared a bond that I couldn’t explain to anyone else. Even Sharky noticed, he was almost as comfortable around Iris and Ivory as he was around me—and it had nothing to do with the fact that we all looked alike with blond hair and green eyes.

Iris took a long sip of her drink and stood up from her barstool. She looked like she had something else to say, but Ivory came to my rescue again.

“Enough of this topic.” Ivory gave Sharky one last pet, then turned towards my living room. “It’s time for the Parade of Presents!”

I followed my sisters out of the kitchen and joined my family around the Christmas tree. My humble home burst at the seams. Mom and Dad sat arm-to-arm on my loveseat. My three-person sofa was crammed with four—my little brother and his wife, Felix and Faye, were squished next to my older sister Mary and her new boyfriend who I didn’t remember his name. Max sat on the recliner that Sharky thought was his despite it being way-too-small. Spewed out on the floor were my two nieces and Max’s son from a previous relationship. My oldest sibling, Jeanine, and her husband Alex sat on bar stools behind the sofa, since there was nowhere else to sit. As Iris took a seat on the floor in front of Max and Ivory settled in front of the Christmas tree, I clanked a butter knife against my glass.

“Is everyone ready?” I asked.

“Ready to kick your butt again this year!” Felix laughed. He leaned over the side of the sofa, lifting up one of last year’s trophies. “Everyone knows I always win the Spoiling the Fun trophy. It’s silly for me to even hand it over, but for the sake of tradition, here it is.” Felix stood from the sofa and passed me the ridiculous trophy we crafted out of someone’s old baton trophy with a little gift package wrapped on the top where the athlete used to be. I placed it on the mantle above my fireplace. Felix picked up a second trophy beside the couch. “And here’s the trophy I won last year for Best Gift. It’ll be hard to top that awesome sweater Mom’s wearing.” Everyone glanced over at Mom who made her light-up, ugly sweater blink some red lights.

“It’s still fabulous,” Mom said. “Every time I put it on, I think of each one of you.” My eyes glanced at all the people knit into the fabric of the sweater. Each of her children had a place–all six of us!

“That’s because I had it custom made,” Felix said.

Iris let out a deep belly laugh. “I can’t help myself! I keep picturing Mom wearing it backwards last year and having her back blink all evening. How she had no idea why we all kept snickering!” The room filled with some bouts of laugher while I grabbed the trophy from Felix, but he didn’t let go.

“Make sure you take a good look at this trophy,” Felix said when the room settled down. “I’m going to get it back this year. Both trophies belong together at my house.”

My shoulders tensed. He was rubbing it in, without a doubt, and I wouldn’t let him win again this year. I had held the title for Best Gift for the previous five years straight, and I was certain my Spiderman action figure I got Dad this year would win. I smiled politely and shrugged. “Anyone could win, not just you or me.”

“They could,” Felix said with a smile as he returned to his seat, “but they won’t.” He winked at me.

“Who wants to go first?” I asked.

“Me!” My thirteen-year-old niece exclaimed with her hand raised in an overly jubilant manner.

I nodded and Esme stood up, unwrapping a vibrant red scarf from her neck and laying it on the carpet where she sat. She searched through the pile of gifts, pulling out one wrapped in Snoopy paper and a big red bow. She held it up, balancing it on the palm of her hand like a waitress carries a platter of food. “This present is for Auntie Mary. Your one clue this year is that it’s supposed to be used outside.” Esme giggled and handed Mary the gift.

Mary shook it, filling the room with a soft clanking sound. “Hmm.” She turned the box over and shook again.

“Okay,” I said. “Ten seconds are over.”

Esme grabbed the gift with a smile and returned it under the tree.

“Save your guesses for Christmas. Same rules as last year. You get three guesses to what everyone’s gift is in honor of the three ghosts of Christmas. If you guess right, you get a point. The person with the most points wins the Spoiling the Fun trophy…and no cheating!” I looked directly at Felix who only laughed. I’m certain that’s how he won last year and every year. I’m not sure how, but he figures out what’s inside almost all the gifts.

“Where’s my scarf?” Esme asked after she returned to her spot.

I scanned the room, catching something red by my bedroom door. I laughed. “Sharky has it!”

Sharky turned his eyes my direction and retreated to my bedroom with the scarf. “Who’s going next?” I asked as I carefully maneuvered around my family.

“I will,” Mom said. “One of the names I picked this year is Gary.”

Gary? That’s must be Mary’s new boyfriend. I made a mental note. Gary rhymes with Mary. Now I’d remember.

Mom continued, “I figured that since it was your first time participating in our family traditions, like the Parade of Presents, I’d make it easy. It’s got a unique shape.”

I entered my bedroom to see Sharky laying on my bed. The scarf tucked beneath his chin. Sometimes, he didn’t like all the commotion in the house. I pulled the soggy scarf from underneath him and tried to dry it off before returning to the living room and handing it to Esme. By now, Gary was squeezing the gift that was narrower on one side than the other.

“Okay, ten seconds,” I said, taking my place in front of the tree again.

We went around and around as everyone held, shook, sniffed, rotated, and squeezed their gifts until it was finally my turn. I pulled out my gift for Dad, wrapped with red paper and a big silver ribbon and handed it to him. He shook it with no sound. Squeezed it some, making the crinkling sound that could be explained as the wrapping paper, then shook it again.

“I’d just like to warn everyone that they’re staring at the gift that’ll win Best Gift, and I’ll be keeping that trophy at my house again.”

Felix laughed. “You think so?”

I sucked in my bottom lip and gave him the sweetest nod.

“Not if I can help it this year,” Ivory said. “It’s my turn at glory! I picked out the best present of all for…you!” She grabbed a tiny box and handed it to me.

“You got my name for once!”

Ivory nodded as I squeezed the hard, little box, shook it, and turned it over. No clues at all! It could be anything four inches by four inches, flat.

“Uh uh,” Ivory tisked. “Time’s up!”

I handed it back without an idea of what was inside.

Once everyone finished up round one, our little game continued for two more rounds until everyone had the chance to present all three gifts they brought as well as hold all three gifts for them.

Faye was the last to go, and as she finished, sitting down beside Felix, I took control of the room again.

“Well, that’s it for this year. Thanks everyone for coming.” I turned to my nieces with a smile. “Now, all we have to do is wait three weeks until Christmas.”

“I hate waiting,” Esme said.

“Me, too,” her little sister, Else, added.

“Me, three,” I laughed, but then, the reality of that sunk in. My heart fluttered like I was a child again. It wasn’t the gifts from my family that I couldn’t wait to open, it was the gift I got for myself that I was waiting for. The gift of my lifelong companion. My Dream Droid.

 

READ THE NEXT PART HERE.

THIS SERIAL NOVELLA, CREATED FOR CHRISTMAS, WILL BE PUBLISHED THREE TIMES WEEKLY ON TUES, THURS, SATURDAY. MAKE SURE YOU CHECK BACK OR SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG TO NOT MISS THIS ONGOING SERIES.

Created for Christmas: 12/2 – 23 Days ’till Christmas

***Note: This is a FIRST DRAFT of this story. It has not been edited and needs some polishing. Any feedback you have, please leave comments. I’d appreciate it! This story will be published mid-November on Amazon. At that point, it’ll be taken down from this blog. Thanks so much! You can also read it on Wattpad HERE.

A Serial Novella (1)

Chapter 1

In the tiny Dream Droids waiting room, my hands fiddled with the hem of my skirt. After two years of contemplating an artificial companion, I gathered the nerve and gave myself a Christmas present.

The door opened on the far corner, and a thin man with dark glasses and light brown hair stuck his head out. His ice-blue eyes caught mine, causing my heart to pick up speed. “Ivy Weldon?” he asked.

I dropped the hem of my skirt and stood up, picking up the Christmas gift I just picked up before this meeting for Dad from the comic bookstore next door. I slung the bag’s handle over my arm as my other hand smoothed out my skirt as I crossed the room. “Yeah, that’s me. Are you Dr. Pierce?”

He nodded and extended his hand. “You can call me Dayton. I prefer the more informal.”

I reached out my hand and he shook it with a softer, warmer hand than I expected. When our hands parted, he quickly shoved his into his lab coat pocket.

“I’m so happy to finally meet you.” I stepped through the hallway door that Dayton held open into a clinically white hallway.

Dayton and I had been emailing back and forth and talking on the phone for over a month now. He had patiently explained the process of creating a humanoid to me. “You’re much younger than I expected.”

He laughed. “I must have an old-sounding voice. I get that a lot.” His voice was deep, but it didn’t sound old.

“It’s just that you were so knowledgeable of the process and great at explaining it to me. It was nice. If it wasn’t for you, I may have given up on this concept.”

“Thank you. It means I’m doing my job well. Dream Droids pays me to put you at ease.” He led me to the back of the hallway, glancing over his shoulder. “You never told me what brings you to Dream Droids?”

My cheeks heated as I looked around to who was listening. I lowered my voice. “I’m tired of being alone. Even with my dog Sharky at home, the house still feels empty.”

His words were way too loud. “Are you looking for something short-term or long-term?”

“Long-term, of course!” As they left my mouth, I realized my words were too eager.

Dayton opened the last door in the hallway and held it open for me. As I stepped inside a room twice the size of my bedroom, he pointed to a pair of comfortable-looking brown leather chairs sitting around a large TV screen on the wall. I took a seat, setting Dad’s present beside me, and Dayton picked up a wireless keyboard from a table between two of the chairs.

After Dayton settled in the leather armchair closest me, the room filled with a soft clicking of keys and the TV came to life, flashing through a series of white, digital forms. “We need to fill out a series of forms that will be used to create your humanoids programming. These forms will control everything about him, from his baseline knowledge, his physical appearance, personality, and even what information he innately knows about you. From our conversations on the phone, I’ve already filled out about half of them, but we like to meet in person for the remainder of them. They contain more critical information. Are you ready to get started?”

I took a deep breath and nodded.

“First off, I need to know why do you really want a droid?”

“I already said I’m looking for companionship. Someone to occupy my home with. Someone I can talk to when nobody else is around.”

“Yes, that’s why you want a droid, but maybe I should rephrase the question. Why are you choosing a droid over a human? Remember, I need the whole truth to truly create a Dream Droid.”

I sucked in my bottom lip, then blew out a breath. I felt raw admitting these words, but I let them be spoken for the first time out loud. “Because I’ve already loved once in my life. I don’t need to do it again.” As an image of Niles, my ex-fiancé filled my mind, my eyes flooded with tears. It was like I was right back there, a few Christmases ago, and he was leaving me once again.

“Many people love more than one person in a lifetime.” He tilted his head at me and I tried to school my face. “You’re afraid of something…afraid to get your heart broken?”

My tears dried up as quickly as they came. “I’m not afraid. I just don’t need to do it again. Why subject yourself to that kind of pain?” But his words stirred something inside. Was that fear? Was I a coward? I had loved Niles for nearly ten years, but one day, he stomped on my heart without warning leaving me for a coworker who was carrying his child. At the time, I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t get out of bed for more than a week, and I never wanted that feeling again. “A droid just seems less…complicated.”

Dayton nodded and typed non-human companionship into the form. When he was done, he balanced the keyboard on his armrest and leaned forearms on his thighs. “I need to make sure you’re clear about something. A droid will never love you.”

“That’s perfect. I don’t need love. I’ve already had love once in my life and it wasn’t fun.” I fumbled with the hem of my skirt again. “Besides, I have love. Lots of love. My family is amazing and support me with everything I do. I have five siblings.”

“Five?” Dayton laughed. “That must be a handful! When I was younger, I was happy that I was an only child since I didn’t have to share Mom & Dad’s attention with anyone. Now that they’re gone, I wished I had a big family.” He smiled awkwardly, then looked away. “I shouldn’t share this. Go on about love not being fun.” There was almost a hint of sarcasm in his voice. Not the mean kind, but the sweet, teasing type. Like you do with a long-time friend.

 

“I didn’t mean love wasn’t fun. I just meant the end wasn’t fun.” I shook my head. Making a humanoid wasn’t going to be as easy as I’d expected. It appeared that I was going to have to face my deepest, hidden emotions to get my droid companion, but I was tired of being lonely. “I did have fun with Niles…and loved him with all my heart…he just didn’t seem to love me the same way.”

Dayton nodded, then turned back towards the form. “I have some gaps in the earlier forms we need to fill in. Some basics, like what is your favorite color?”

I rattled off answers to about a hundred questions before Dayton clicked around on a collection of forms and finally hit Save.

“Very good,” he said. “We’re done for today.”

“That’s it?” A kaleidoscope of butterflies suddenly filled my stomach. We were one step closer to my loyal companion that would never leave me. One that would go with me to my family events so I didn’t have to go alone. One that would be waiting for me at home every day after I finish work. I couldn’t wait.

“Our hour’s up and that’s it for today. We need to meet once a week for the next three weeks to finish the build.”

“Three more meetings? I was hoping to have him soon.” Like by tomorrow for my family’s Parade of Presents tradition.

“We just finished the basic information and still need to create the complexities that will make him seem human. Next week, we’ll go over physical appearance. The following will be personality, then at the last meeting, we’ll bring him to life…so three more meetings. You’ll still have him in time for Christmas.” Dayton looked down at the bag I carried. “Sorry, I couldn’t help getting a glimpse inside your bag, but is that a vintage Spiderman action figure?”

I opened the bag and pulled out the action figure. “Yeah. It’s a gift for my dad. I figured since Dream Droids is right next to AmaZing Comics, I’d check it out for a perfect Christmas present. See, when I was a child, I used to watch the spider man cartoon with my dad. It was the only bit of TV he had time to watch. I loved…well, I still love Spiderman and so does Dad! He’s going to love this!”

“Can I…hold it?” Dayton cautiously reached out.

“Sure. Be careful.”

He nodded and fondled the package as if it was made of gold. “I always check out the Spiderman table at Comic Con

“Comic Con?”

“Don’t tell me that you haven’t heard of Comic Con? It’s where all lovers of fantasy and superheroes get together and share their passion. There’s one going on this weekend downtown. It starts Friday night. You should check it out. They have lots of stuff like this for sale.” He lifted the Spiderman action figure up, turned it over one last time, then slipped it back into its bag.

“I don’t need to go,” I smiled, taking the bag back from Dayton. “I already have the Perfect gift.”

A sweet smile tugged at his lips. “Well, if you’re bored, it’s quite a sight to see.” His eyes glistened in a way that made me wonder what about Comic Con could light him up so much.

Dayton stood. “I really need to get to my next appointment. I’ll see you next week.”

Next week. I took a deep breath and nodded, certain that this was going to be the longest month of my life as I waited in anticipation for my Dream Droid.

GO TO CHAPTER 2 HERE

THIS SERIAL NOVELLA, CREATED FOR CHRISTMAS, WILL BE PUBLISHED THREE TIMES WEEKLY ON TUES, THURS, SATURDAY. MAKE SURE YOU CHECK BACK OR SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG TO NOT MISS THIS ONGOING SERIES.

Created for Christmas – A Blog Serial Novella

For something different, I wanted to share a novella I’m writing with you…posted to this blog in parts as a serial. The entire story will be available here, on my blog, over the next month or so, so make sure you stop back frequently! I’ll be updating it a few times per week. I’ll be taking it down mid-November to publish on Amazon.

Here’s the blurb:

Ivy wanted nothing more for Christmas than to have someone to come home to…to have a companion to chat about her day with…and someone to show off at her family holiday celebrations.

Well, this Christmas, she’s not going to be alone! She decided to create her perfect companion at Dream Droids, the premier robotics company specializing in sentiment humanoids. Irma spends weeks with Dr. Pierce, creating her dream man, from his appearance, personality, and even his knowledge of her life.

There’s just one problem: When a special gift she purchased for her father goes missing, and Dr. Pierce agrees to help her find it, she finds herself falling for him. After getting heart stomped on by her ex-fiance, there’s no way she can open it up again…besides, she just created the perfect man.

I know, it’s too early for Christmas, but I had to get started to meet deadlines. Begin reading Chapter 1 HERE. (Or, for Wattpad users, you can follow along HERE.)

A Serial Novella (1)

 

Newsletters, Street Teams, Advanced Reader Groups, Social Media, Oh My!

My marketing efforts for my novels needed to be organized!

One thing I had been confused about is all the special groups some writers have. I’ve read about street teams, advanced reader groups, and launch teams, but it left me confused…I already have a newsletter and social media fan pages, do I really need three more groups of readers?

And with these more specialized groups, what info do I share with them, and how often do I engage them? I can barely keep up with everything I do already.

At multiple points during my years writing and publishing, I bought into each of these team concepts at one point, forming a new group that I let fizzle out a few weeks later, because I didn’t understand what to do with the team of willing readers.

After doing a ton of research, I realized I was making the whole process way too complicated.  I demystified the teams, and I thought other writers might also be confused, so I’m sharing information on my idea of what the best collection of fan engagement platforms are. The ones that give you the biggest return for your time.

Newsletter:

I’m still a huge fan of a Newsletter List. Many writers have multiple different ways to grow and manage their newsletters. Some writers only grow organically through visitors to their website and readers of their books, others utilize a reader magnet and service like Instafreebie or BookFunnel, while others participate in huge group giveaways. I’m actually a fan of all of the above.

I treat my newsletter like any type of paid advertising I do. It’s a way to engage established fans and attract new readers. What’s right is very specific to the writer.

There’s also the question of how often to send a NL. I know writers who send a newsletter daily…to weekly…to monthly…to only with new release edition. My choice is after an initial, weekly welcome series for the first month, I only send a NL out monthly unless I have a new release or something important to say in between. Monthly is enough to ensure the readers remember who you are, but doesn’t bog down their inbox.

I look as a newsletter as a consistent, typically one-way communication tool where an I can keep my subscribers/fans updated on what I’m working on, such as new and upcoming releases and remind new fans of my previous books they might not know about. To keep fans engaged, I do ask questions, share fun content like jokes and contests, share new project info, inside information on writing a certain piece, including deleted scenes, character interviews, etc, contests/games, other author book reviews, etc.

Website/Blog:

It works the same as a newsletter, only instead of the author pushing out the information, readers find the information when they’re interested in it. It’s a way to keep books organized and guide the reader to other stories they’ll enjoy. Plus, it’s nice to add a little bit of extra, bonus information.

I continue to blog a little (I used to do more of it)  for no reason other than I get enjoyment from the process and interaction. I don’t feel a blog is necessary, but do think every author should have at least a static web page.

Social Media Fan Pages:

Social media is another way to engage the reader. Successful fan pages have two way communication where the author connects with the reader on a nearly, 1:1 level. In my neck of the woods, Facebook is the most popular, so I utilize that one. I have other ones as well, but I don’t go to them routinely with information, but I utilize some integration so my blog and Facebook posts automatically go to twitter.

Early in my career, I tried to utilize too many social media sights, and I got overwhelmed and my posting frequency and content quality went down on all of them. Now, I’m focusing on Facebook. Ideally, posting every day. If some of my fans don’t use Facebook, they should subscribe to my NL or check out my webpage to find whatever info they’d like.

Advanced Reader Team / Street Team / Launch Team:

I’ve decided to combine all three of these into one team that I’m going to refer to as my Street Team. It’s too difficult to keep different groups based on what they’ll do for you, so I’m merging all my half-thought-out groups into one. With this, I have two parts. First is a “Street Team” email list and second is a “Street Team” Facebook group.

Both of which I don’t contact consistently, only when I have something to say. Most of these readers are on my regular newsletter list or follow my Facebook Author Page already.

I utilize this group to help me with specific tasks. In exchange, they get offered early, advanced copies of my books before publication.

I ask them to read and review copies of my books, to purchase the book (if they’re able) to help me with Amazon ranking and having their reviews show up as verified. I also ask for help with advertising by commenting and sharing Facebook posts for enhanced visibility, to help pick covers, provide blurb feedback, to test their interest in new book ideas, and to help spread the words of my stories by sharing them with their own followers and groups.

So…how does this all come together?

I send my Newsletter out once per month. (And an extra time if I have a mid-cycle new release.)

I’m working up to posting on my Facebook Page once daily. I pre-schedule posts a lot so I only need to work on this about one day per month.

I post on my Street Team Facebook Group whenever I have a decision to make… i.e. New series cover or concept, title feedback, etc, have an advanced reader copy of a book ready (I like to post the book 2-4 weeks before publication) and then during the first week of my launch with specific tasks (like leaving the review, liking/sharing posts, etc.)

I email my Street Team Newsletter list when I have a new advanced reader copy of a book ready, then I re-email whoever received a copy as soon as the book launches, reminding them to leave a review.

That’s it. Not nearly as complicated as I made it over the past few years.

How about you? What works for you that I’m missing? I’d love to hear.

You Can’t Have Too Many Fairy Godmothers!

When you saw or read the story of Cinderella, who did  you cheer for? Was it the poor servant who was given a chance at love?

Or was it the fairy godmother who made it all happen?

How about Pinocchio? Did you cheer for the boy made out of wood, or did you want more screen time for the blue fairy who performed a miracle for the boy to live?

And Sleeping Beauty? In the Disney movie, the three fairy godmothers stole the show with their comic relief.

For me, I loved the magic behind the story. I loved the fairy godmothers!

Hidden CoverLast November, I published a quirky fantasy book about a pregnant fairy godmother who ventures to the forbidden human world to find her child’s father (Hidden: A Pregnant Fairy Godmother’s Journey…) I didn’t think too hard as I wrote it, just having fun along the way, creating places like Prosthetics-R-Us, meals like platapus eggs and meatloaf, and a character who said Dibbity, Dobbity, Doo!

This story was a much needed break after finishing  novel that I struggled with for nearly a year (The Secret Lives of Superhero Wives.) It’s only novella length (about 30,000 words) but tells an entire story.

As ridiculous as this story was, it was my fourth published story and the first one that my 13 year old daughter read. (I had to promise her there were no swear words in it!) Hidden was never meant to have any other stories in this world, but after my daughter finished the story, she kept asking me to write the story of Ciera (my main character’s) baby.

Well, I’m leaving the story of Kamda (Ciera’s daughter) to my own daughter to write (she’s about 3000 words into the story,) BUT I did write another story in the Fairy Godmother Universe.

Why?

Because you can’t have too many fairy godmothers!

legends of the veil

My newest addition to the Fairy Godmother World is titled Trapped: One Fairy Godmother’s Impossible Love… It’s less quirky, but just as fun. It’s another novella length work that’s currently only available in the Legends of the Veil anthology. Once again, I wrote it as an escape from a current project (The Angels of Sojourn Series.)

This novella tells the story of Mila, a fairy godmother who’s been in love with Lincoln, a human, since she was six. Now, nearly twenty years later, this human is getting married, and Mila finds herself faced with an impossible decision.

This story stands alone and you can read it independently of Hidden.

So, what’s next?

I’ll give my daughter a year to come up with the story of Ciera’s daughter, Kamda…if she doesn’t finish it, I’ll be writing it when I need a break from whatever project I’m working on. In the mean time, I’m busy planning a Christmas story and plotting out a new series involving something a little different for me…aliens.

Thanks for reading!

Copy of Discover More of the Angels of Sojourn with these FREE books

Starting a Newsletter Serial Novella

_ NEW _

For about a year, I’ve been wanting to write a serial novel for my newsletter where I release one or two chapters of a new story at a time. I had gone so far as polling my newsletter subscribers to see if they were interested (which the majority of the respondents said they were.)

I had two big barriers to doing this…

  1. Finding the time to write something extra with all the stories I already committed to and fitting this in with the work I do at my family zoo business.
  2. My Newsletter only goes out monthly — that’s a lot of time to wait between releases.

But this summer, I’m in need of sending out a weekly newsletter due to all the new material I have coming out and other commitments. I thought it would be a great time to try this serial newsletter idea.

So, starting today and running until the end of August (or mid-September, depending on how the story goes) I’ll be releasing a weekly newsletter filled with one or two chapters of my current work in progress, The Superhero’s Husband.

This story is not written yet. I’m writing it as we go with hopes of receiving feedback from readers. I did take a day or two and outlined it with quite a bit of detail — which is needed for clue planting as all my longer stories have elements of mystery.

I’ll update you in a few months… My fingers are crossed that this is successful!

To see how I introduced this concept in my newsletter, click HERE.

To subscribe to my newsletter to follow along, click HERE.

To read the first chapter of The Superhero’s Husband, click HERE.

Author Newsletter Content

It’s been over a year that I’ve been sending out an author newsletter. I used to get so nervous on my content and had a touch of paralysis on whether to send it out or not.

Now, I’m a little more confident, but still wonder if I’m on target. I subscribe to lots of author newsletters, trying to see which interests me most, but each one of them is so different. I’ve learned what I don’t like in a newsletter, but still have questions:

Are my subscribers reading mine? Do they like the content or are they expecting something different?

To answer these questions, I created a survey and asked my readers what they like, hate, and wish was included. I sent this survey out in my monthly newsletter and incentivized survey completion with a $20 Amazon Gift Card prize given away to one lucky respondent. Here’s what that newsletter looked like.

Overall, I received 535 responses to my survey. 🙂 This is what my readers had to say:

  • 52% have read at least one of my books
  • 50% appreciate that my stories are clean, while 30% don’t care, and 9% only will read clean stories (I recently had two subscribers upset about an anthology I was in that wasn’t clean. My story was, but the other author’s stories weren’t. It made me realize who some of my readers are.)
  • 59% like a monthly newsletter while 19% like every other week and 17% would like weekly (Other authors do weekly and say it works great and is what their fans want. I was curious, as a more frequent newsletter would allow me to participate in more group promotions.)
  • 71% of my readers enjoy fantasy books, 70% mystery, 56% romance, 56% science fiction, and 20% would read anything I wrote. 😊 (I love you!) I didn’t realize how many mystery readers I had.
  • 50% are happy with a diverse newsletter while 25% would like one tailored towards their favorite genre
  • 59.4% like a subject line that has a peek to the content while 32.5% enjoy a consistent one so they know who the newsletter is from (Mine used to all say something like: April’s “Hidden World” Newsletter. I recently changed this to try to get higher open rates, and was wondering if readers missed it. It appears this was a good change.

Of what I currently put in my newsletter, I learned my readers are most interested in my new release updates, followed by updates on my writing progress & stories. Group promos & contests, and other author books are the least favorite, but still 54% say they enjoy this section.

I then asked the survey respondents what would they like to see in my newsletter that’s currently not there. The most requested was fun stories about my personal life that ranked in at 47.5%, followed by sneak peeks & excerpts and exclusive content such as character interviews or deleted scenes. Hearing about book sales and the life as a writer also had quite a few votes. The least votes came to hear about what I’m blogging about and a serial novel.

Then I read everyone’s comments, which is where you get the best feedback. Here’s some of my favorites that I’ll be incorporating into newsletter revisions:

  • More on Zoo Animals!
  • More on where you get your inspiration
  • Too many promotions at the end of the email
  • Table of contents
  • Don’t need to include all categories every month
  • Advanced reader copies of books

Overall, this was a fantastic exercise to do with readers. I learned that I’m currently on target with content, but still gave me some tweaks I can do to improve my newsletters further. To see how this all came together, take a peek at my April Newsletter where I started to make some changes. More to come.

Thanks for reading!

–Joy

Feel free to share any author newsletter experiences you’ve had. I love learning from each other.