Where have I been?

Has anyone noticed I’ve been MIA?

No, I haven’t given up. Actually, I can’t wait to post my next 1000 True Fans post, as my mailing list is now over 10,000 subscribers…BUT my time has been limited.

Why?

Oh, let me tell you…

On June 28th, my father had a large tree limb randomly fall on him while he was walking through his zoo. He’s getting better now, but had to spend two weeks in the ICU while his skull fracture healed.

Those of you that have read my bio know my parents own a zoo. They work sun-up to sun-down seven days per week on their business. They love bringing a smile to visitor’s faces…just like why I write.

Well, with my dad out of commission and my mom having to care for him, that left the zoo needing management. My brother (who just graduated medical school) and I came rushing home to help with my dad and the animals.

Life’s been crazy. There’s always some emergency. From the Syrian brown bears getting crabby to a baby arctic fox needing ice blocks to handle some hot summer days. (Yes, we get them here in Wisconsin.)

Now, my parents are thinking of backing off a little and are wondering if my brother and I want to take over the zoo.

What an interesting life decision facing me and my family. We’ve decided to give it a try. All I know is it’s hard work, but quite rewarding as well. 

With all this, I haven’t done much new writing. I haven’t even blogged! Honestly, the little free time I have had has been spent trying to meet deadlines for projects I have in the works: The Secret Lives of Superhero Wives, Hidden: A Pregnant Fairy Godmother’s Journey, Witch or Treat: Multi-Author Halloween Anthology, and a Twelve Days of Christmas Anthology.

Once we move (which we are in the process of right now) and life settles down, I’ll find my balance (September, I hope. When the kids start up at their new schools). Until then, I’m enjoying the challenges thrown my way. One of my old managers used to say,  “You only grow in times of change.” That’s so true. Take a peek at this article from the Huffington Post showcasing this idea.

Here are a few photos from my album (my friends, the elk, a two month old baby bobcat, and a newborn Heck/Tarpan horse.):

Thanks for sticking with me. I really appreciate all my loyal followers.

Book Spotlight – FACE OF GLASS by Damon L. Wakes

Book Spotlight (4)

Novel: Face of Glass

Author: Damon L. Wakes

Genre: Historical Fantasy

How I found this book: I participated in a Facebook giveaway event, where I offered to read and review a speculative fiction novel on my blog as a prize. Damon L. Wakes was the runner up.

Amazon book description:

Face of Glass

In ancient days when the island was new, the three elements–Mountain, Sun and Moon–came to threaten Man.

One by one, the hero SutaKe challenged these great figures, and with his cunning conquered them. The island now is ruled by Man alone, and SutaKe’s legend lives on through the ages.

But when a foreign merchant brings a new element–Steel–to the shores of the island, legends alone are not enough to resist it. A young slave, ParuMe, seizes the chance to claim an ancient power, and with it his freedom. However, this power comes at a terrible price: it threatens everything he had hoped to gain.

What’s not in the blurb: Well, it’s kinda in the blurb, but I thought this story was very unique as it mixes ancient times with magic. So many fantasy novels take place in what seems like the middle ages, and this is the first I’ve read that takes it further back in time.

As I writer, what I really enjoyed and appreciated: I loved how the author created a world of characters with naming conventions to reflect their title. For Example: The character name ParuMe. The “Me” at the end refers to him being a slave. If the last letters were “Ke” we’d know his title was a King. I just felt this was clever. I also admired the author’s world building and the description he uses to describe his world. Not overly done, but just the right amount to take you into the past without slowing down the story’s pacing.

Who’d enjoy this book: Readers of historical fantasy.

My overall impression: Ever read a book and wonder how the author came up with all the stuff written on the pages? Well, this was one of those books for me. Maybe it’s because I don’t usually read historical fantasy, or perhaps it’s just because the author has a extra-imaginative mind. If you want to be carried away into the past with warriors and warlocks, this is the book for you.

About the author: Damon L. Wakes is an MA student at the University of Winchester, and writes just about anything that springs to mind. Though he does produce novels, he has had greater success with his short stories, a handful of which have made it into print. As well as promoting his own books, he hopes to share the work of others who are under-read, under-appreciated, or just plain awesome.

Where to find this novel:

Other books by Damon L. Wakes:

  • OCR is Not the Only Font
  • Osiris Likes This
  • Red Herring
  • Bionic Punchline
  • Robocopout
  • Ten Little Astronauts This is a crowdfunding project. For more info, check out this video. Pledging to support Ten Little Astronauts is more than just buying a book: it’s an opportunity to bring that book into the world. The novella is already written, but it needs your help to make it into print. Of course, there are also rewards for supporters, ranging from digital copies of the book all the way up to limited edition prints of the cover art. And as every pledge helps Ten Little Astronauts towards its goal, the names of all supporters will be included in every edition of the book.

My disclosure: I hate star ratings. Honestly, I think these are so subjective and sometimes reflect the reader more than they do the book. Because this is my blog, and I can do anything I want, I’m not using them. I think ANYBODY who puts the time, effort, and dedication to write and publish an entire novel deserves a big KUDOS.

 

Camp NaNo – My First Sequel

July’s Camp NaNoWriMo is coming up, and I’m excited to start my first sequel! I published Blood & Holy Water back in April, and since then, readers have been asking for a sequel…so…here we go! I have a tentative cover (since, for some reason, covers motivate me to write) and a working title.

bhw ff

Book 1 (Blood & Holy Water) was about an angel who needed a miracle to earn her wings…and it turns out her miracle involved a vampire with a secret to protect.

Book 2 (Feathers & Fur) will be about a recently fallen angel who can’t help but try to do good, but when his path’s cross with a werewolf mother that doesn’t want his help, he feels lost in this new world.

I have the whole thing outlined, and know the characters since they appeared in other stories. (The fallen angel was in Blood & Holy Water and the werewolf was in my story Bitten in my Quick Escape: Fantasy Tales freebie.)

Next, I need to come up with a series title.

So, who’s in Camp with me? What will you be working on?

Two Audience-Building Multi-Author Projects

As I’m looking to grow my audience reach, I’m excited to be participating in a few multi-author projects.

Hidden

A group of at least fifteen authors have come together to write a story with the title of “Hidden.” Each of us has selected a week to release our project beginning October 26th. This is a great way to cross promote and keep our books visible long after falling off the Amazon 30 day new release list.

I wrote my first draft of my story, Hidden: A Pregnant Fairy Godmother’s Journey during the April Camp NaNoWriMo. Now, I finalized my cover, and I wanted to share it.

Ta Da!

I made it myself. (I just discovered Paint.net, and I LOVE it!) My first draft of my blurb is also posted below.

Hidden: A Pregnant Fairy Godmother’s Journey…

Hidden Final

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

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?

Instead of finding John, she runs into a thief who’s hiding a secret of his own. Can the two team up to solve each other’s problems, no matter how crazy they may be?

To stay up to date on the stories in this series, publishing dates, check out the Hidden Landing Page or Facebook Page. (Also, if you’re an author and would like to participate, please let me know.)

Multi-Author Anthology

The other projects I’m working on are two anthologies. One is a cozy supernatural Halloween project and the other is a Twelve Days of Christmas anthology.

Both projects will have a group of authors published in a single book. Each with a separate story that fits the theme. This should be a lot less work than the Hidden project, as I plan to write 5000 word stories for both.

The Halloween Anthology will take place in my Superhero World…and will feature a Witch. I believe the book will be titled, Witch or Treat.

The Twelve Days of Christmas Anthology will feature twelve authors, each taking a day from the classic song. My story will be titled Three Calling Birds and is completely undeveloped at this point.

I’m excited about the possibility of gaining new readers from my stories in these anthologies.

 

I can’t wait for these projects to come to a close so I can share my results with you.

Have you participated in multi author writing projects? I’d love to hear how they went.

Book Launch Results

My Writing Journey (1)

In my post nearly a month ago, I asked, “Is there such thing as a perfect book launch?” You can get caught up by reading it HERE.

My newest novel, Blood & Holy Water, launched April, 4th. I had done a ton of research on successful launch techniques and devised the best launch I was capable of.

I promised to circle back and let you know how it went.

The good news: It was the best launch I’ve ever had! (Okay, okay. It’s only my second one.) I hit #17 on one amazon best seller’s list and #3053 in the overall Kindle store.

IMG_0723

After everything I did, here’s what my sales graph looks like for this novel for the past 3 weeks. It was priced at 99 cents for most the time. The first chart (in red) is number of units sold and the bottom chart (in blue) is Kindle page reads. (Each page read equates to about half a cent of revenue.)

book launch

On April 22nd, I raised the price to $2.99 and you can see the drop off in sales. We’ll see how this goes.

My key points I’m taking with me to my next launch:

  1. Kindle Scout: I had been on the fence about the Kindle Scout program. Overall, it netted me at least eight newsletter subscribers and twenty-nine book sales. Granted, some of these were family and friends that had voted for me, but there were still at least 29 sales from this program. Even better would have been if my novel was accepted. I still will do Kindle Scout next time…Maybe I should be embarrassed my book wasn’t picked, but I’m not. They only pick 3% of submitted books anyway.
  2. My Newsletter: This was a ROCK STAR!!! I sold another twenty-eight novels PLUS I found advanced readers to post reviews. Overall, I went live with about fifteen really good reviews on this book.
  3. Pre-publish a Paperback: MUST-DO to collect advanced reviews.
  4. Well-planned launch week. I sold 227 books the first week…though, this does not break even, it is SO NICE to see my book in so many people’s hands. My launch promotion was still spread a little thin. Next time, I’ll pile everything on 3-5 days to build up my ranking using a combo of free and paid advertising.
  5. Also, surprisingly I found Facebook ads helped for the book priced at 99 cents (though, I took a loss with each sale, I was trying to build up my ranking.) Now that my books $2.99, the ads don’t work as well.

The so-so things:

  1. My Newsletter: yeah, it also had some downsides. I felt it was a little self-promoty without building a relationship with all my subscribers first. I blogged about my panic HERE.
  2. Amazon giveaways to grow a following on Amazon: Maybe a handful of sales. This is probably’s not worth it.
  3. Goodreads giveaway to build up the “to read” list. I dunno. It only costed $8 and had nearly 700 people add it to their “to read” list. I’m uncertain if this turns into anything.
  4. Newsletter swaps/cross promos. So-so results at the expense of tiring out your own readers promoting other’s books.

The bad stuff: Do I really need bad stuff?

I still didn’t break even with money…but again, it’s still cheaper than many other hobbies…cheaper than a latte every morning.

Pre-publishing Costs: $335 ($105 of this was spent towards trying to find a cover I liked. I used fiverr, bought photos, etc because I just couldn’t find something I was happy with. This is part of the reason I’m leaning towards finding my own graphic designer for future novels…2018 goals.)

Publishing Promotion Costs/Advertising for Launch Week: $167 (I accidentally book an extra promo site for $40, as I thought I had been denied and forgot about it.) Next time: only $100!

Sales Since Launch: $208 (286 ebooks, 5 paperbacks, 21,155 page reads) PLUS extra promo for Love, Lies & Clones $24 (28 books, 2404 page reads) Total: $222

So…not counting pre-publishing costs, I made $55. When you add in pre-publishing costs, I’m in the hole…$280, which is about the same as Love, Lies & Clones three weeks after release, BUT it’s in the hands of a ton more readers! Win. Win. Win. (Since my goal is simply for people to read my stuff.)

I probably overspent on the launch…just like I did with my Kindle Countdown deal for Love, Lies & Clones. Oh well…it’s an experiment. Now, when The Secret Lives of the Superheroes’ Wives is ready to publish this fall, I’ll be one step closer to the “perfect” launch.

Thanks for sharing in my journey.

–Joy

Subject 23 – Free Prequel to Love, Lies & Clones

Sound the trumpets!

I finished a short prequel to Love, Lies & Clones that I thought was a lost cause.

It’s called Subject 23. Here it is:

Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Blood &Subject 23

Alice Taylor poured her heart into the advancement of science. It wasn’t until she connected with a surrogate mother, Subject 23, did she begin questioning what path science was taking her down.

This is a glimpse into June’s father’s cloning experiments. Meet June’s mother, Alice, and watch her struggle with the ethics behind the project.

You can download a copy HERE.

I had started writing it back in January with hopes of using it to entice readers to pick up the full novel, but abandoned the project because it contained spoilers, and I couldn’t figure out how to get the spoilers out of the story.

What a shame to have a story mostly finished and not be able to let people read it…that was until I had an idea last week while writing the post for my 1000 “true” fans blog series.

I finished this 5000+ word story up and am marketing it as a prequel best enjoyed AFTER reading the full novel. I mean, that’s better than letting it sit on the virtual shelf, unread, right?

If you’re interested, it’s a standalone story. You can read it if you’ve read Love, Lies & Clones, don’t intend to read the novel, or don’t really care about spoilers.

I kept a similar cover to Love, Lies & Clones, just to keep it easy. Hopefully, that doesn’t make things confusing.

Subject 23 (1)

Have a great day, everyone! Thanks for sharing my journey.

–Joy

 

Book Spotlight – RETURN TO ROYALTY by E. Paige Burks

Book Spotlight (3)

Novel: Return to Royalty

Author: E. Paige Burks

Genre: Urban Fantasy / PNR / New Adult

How I found this book: The author of Return to Royalty and I mutually follow each other’s blogs and we both published our Fantasy novels at the same time. It seemed only right to take a look. (Plus, I loved the cover.)

Amazon book description:

RTR

Nyx Estrella is a princess from Gexalatia, a world on the other side of a portal. Unfortunately, she has no idea. Sent to Lucky, Texas, when she was a baby to protect her from the evil King Paraximus, her biggest concerns are grades and seeing her friends. She has no idea that she possesses magical abilities and that her reality is about to become really strange. Jet Lamia is a war prisoner, sent from Gexalatia by the queen, Liana Estrella, to bring Nyx back home to the kingdom of Ymber. The portal only opens on the winter solstice, so Jet finds himself trapped on Earth, trying to blend in. Fortunately, he has help in the form of the queen’s chosen assistant, Seth Alvar. But playing well with others has never been one of Jet’s talents. It is a race against the clock to tell Nyx her true identity and try to train her, while also keeping her alive. Nyx and Jet struggle to defeat the assassins sent to kill them both, while trying not to kill each other. Can this duo put their differences aside and return to Gexalatia?

What’s not in the blurb: I didn’t expect the suspense (maybe even a touch of horror, at times) in this story…both of which are not my usual genre, but I LOVED IT!

As I writer, what I really enjoyed and appreciated: Holy cow did the tension between the character’s get to me. I found myself turning pages to find out how their relationship would grow, taking mental notes how I could use the author’s techniques in my own writing.

Who’d enjoy this book: Lovers of contemporary fantasy who enjoy a little suspense and romance thrown in. This book is listed in the Young Adult category, but I found it more New Adult, appealing to a wider audience.

My overall impression: Once I got into the book, I couldn’t put it down! I seriously loved the characters and can’t wait to read more. Once book two is published, I’ll definitely be getting myself a copy to continue the journey of Nyx and Jet. This book had the right mix of suspense, fantasy, and a little romantic tension. Perfect!

About the author: E. Paige Burks, budding author of The Heart of the Guardian, is a graduate from Texas A&M University with a degree in Agricultural Communication and Journalism. Her book, Return to Royalty, won the 2016 Author U Draft to Dream Award in the Young Adult category and has been nominated for USA Best Book Awards and International Book Awards. When she is not writing fantasy and love stories, she enjoys Mexican food, singing out loud, cuddling with her cats, and taking long naps. E. Paige Burks lives in Houston, Texas with her husband, four dogs, three cats, three horses, and a single bird named Ricki.

Where to find this novel:

Other books in the series:

  •  Book 2 of A Gexalatia Tale (Yet to be published.)

My disclosure: I hate star ratings. Honestly, I think these are so subjective and sometimes reflect the reader more than they do the book. Because this is my blog, and I can do anything I want, I’m not using them.

I think ANYBODY who puts the time, effort, and dedication to write and publish an entire novel deserves 5 stars anyway. Also, when I read indie authors, I realize they operate on a shoestring (non-existent) budget and don’t have a team of college educated professionals helping them fine tune their novels.