On including a pandemic in current and future works.

Hey gang, how we doing?  Feeling okay?  Getting settled in?

As I published a book towards the start of the pandemic, back when we really didn’t know how long things would go (not that we do now, but maybe we were all a bit more optimistic back in late March), I did wonder for a minute — what would my characters do if their story was interrupted by COVID-19?  How would any of my stories adjust to a global pandemic?

And while we’re not the first authors to deal with something like this (hello, Spanish Flu), this is a much more modern time.  In the end, obviously, it was never a major consideration to edit Twenty Year Reunion.  Although I supposed it would have added a fun twist to force Quinn and Rebecca to get stuck in the States, or in quarantine together.  Ahem.  Going forward, I wonder how this time will impact my writing and future projects.

If I look back at my published works, a modern pandemic wouldn’t have much to do with Queen Juliette and her issues (but for her descendants…well, it could potentially factor in).  However, for all of my marching band novels, my poor characters would be far apart from each other, safely social distancing, and unable to practice – let alone compete or perform in a Friday night football game.  For Liz in her cross country road trip, well, she wouldn’t have been able to go anywhere, or perhaps she might have got stuck somewhere with no one (except trusty Apollo, of course).

For the upcoming books I’m editing, Take One! at Mulholland High, again, the characters and are their little dramas wouldn’t be happening, and as for my Louvre project – again – people wouldn’t be out in public at some of the numerous large scale events where the book takes place.

I have no doubt authors are currently at work with books containing people in isolation together (and there have been some cute fanfic to come out of this), and the longer this goes on, I wonder about the larger impact on fiction across all mediums.

If you’re an author, how do you feel about the pandemic conditions and your WIPs?  Are you incorporating anything into any current projects?  Would you consider writing a novel with the pandemic included in your story?

And for readers, can you reccomend any good (fictional) pandemic reads?  The Stand, The Passage, and Station Eleven are some of my favorites.

I can recommend a few. 😉

Twenty Year Reunion is here (and why I published during a pandemic).

So, Twenty Year Reunion has been available about a week (buy it here).

Why on earth did I choose to publish now?

Why didn’t I hang on to this book for when ‘things go back to normal?’

Basically, why not?  (And really, what is that ‘normal’ going to look like?)

The way I figure it, is that nothing is going to change drastically in the coming months — or if it does, it will only be in stricter scenarios.  I believe people will still want to read and really, this book is a bit of complete escapism.  It’s a cute story meant to take a reader away for a few hours. It’s my hope that readers of Twenty Year Reunion will have a fun break from reality with Rebecca and Quinn. To get lost as a reader for an afternoon or evening — because honestly, that’s all I’m looking for in my novels right now.

In reality, I don’t see us all getting some magic switch flipped in the future.  Things aren’t just going to ‘be better’ one day any time soon.  And even if they were, we don’t know when that day will be.

And since I can’t predict the future, I don’t know what’s next for me, or any of us.  Perhaps it’s a bit selfish, but if publishing this book makes me feel good about myself, and, as it gives me a moment of self satisfaction, well, I’m going to take it. getting their story in the world gives me something new to concentrate on, as well as the head space to concentrate on my next project.

Will you see another book from me this year?  Yes, probably.  As the UAE is currently on 100% lock down (we can only leave our homes with permits), editing and writing are processes important to my sanity and well being.

If you’re an author who has novels to publish in 2020, are you moving ahead, or holding on to your works?

Where has Queen Juliette been hiding?

I promised a post on this topic, and it’s time.

So, this time last year, I was contacted by a literary agent.  We’d actually had lunch to discuss the agency representing me in December 2018, but the contract was finalized in 2019.  The amount of time it took to get the contract completed was probably a sign of things to come.  And, I’ll admit, my expectations were low.  Mainly because, well, I’ve been publishing for over ten years.  I’m not blind on how things work, or how long it can take for things to move forward.  Still, I thought, why not?  Ten books in, I’m certainly not earning a living from writing, so, really, trying something new couldn’t hurt.  The agent knew someone I knew in publishing, and was invited to major international book events — I had nothing to lose.

The timing was interesting because when I signed, I was 100% ready to publish the third book of my Queen series, The Queen of England: Ascension (now available).  Literally.  I had the final cover and formatted draft — everything was ready to go.  Realizing you can’t sell a book that’s already published, I decided I would give this weird experiment a year, and kept Juliette’s conclusion on the shelf

Throughout last year, I kept a low profile with my agent.  I (optimistically), thought she would contact me with updates.  This proved not to be the case.  While she attended various book fairs, and would always have some update that sounded good (translating my books for a Persian market?!), inevitably, MONTHS would go by with no progress.  The back and forth was always instigated by me, and more often than not, ignored.

In November/December last year, I decided I would experiment.  Essentially, I sent three separate e-mails, each requesting an update.  They all went unanswered.  Did something happen to her?  I wondered.  No, it did not.  We are part of the same professional industry group on Facebook, and she is a VERY active member — often listing the same e-mail address that I had been contacting her on.

So, after finishing an edit of another book, and with the world more of less devolving on a daily basis, I thought, “What the hell?”  Yesterday, I published.

I’m not writing this post to sound bitter (even if I probably do), more that, in the long history of my writing, this is just another thing that didn’t pay off.  Maybe one day I’ll look back and laugh. Maybe the Queen wasn’t ready to be in the world in 2019.  Maybe I needed that creative energy for other projects.  Maybe my agent really was that busy.  Maybe she’ll come through for that elusive Persian market.

I do feel better now that the book is out, and I hope Juliette can forgive me for keeping her in absolute limbo for a year.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Onwards and upwards.

~C

YA Scavenger Hunt, Spring 2019!

Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are SIX contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the RED TEAM — but there is also a blue team, a gold team, an orange team, a red team, and an indie team for a chance to win a whole different set of books!

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE
 
Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the red team, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).
 
Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.
Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by , at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
SCAVENGER HUNT POST
Today, I am hosting Vicki Leigh on my website for the YA Scavenger Hunt!

Vicki Leigh grew up in a small suburb of Akron, Ohio, and considered being sent to her room as an opportunity to dive into another book. By the sixth grade, Vicki had penned her first, full-length screenplay.

EXCLUSIVE CONTENT

Before we get into the exclusive cover reveal of HOLD ME TIL THE END, let’s learn a bit more about the book, shall we?

The end of the world begins.

On Saltum Island, Daniel and the others wait for Bartholomew to return from the Clandestine while Kayla attempts blood spells to try to get a lock on Apollyon’s location. But even with her powers at full capacity, nothing is working. Then Bartholomew returns with news from the Angels: they refuse to interfere—but one has handed him an angelic book of spells, with which Kayla can do so much.

As Kayla pushes her power to the edge to decipher the book, Daniel and his comrades roam the now-famished United States, offering survivors protection and shepherding them to bunkers in preparation for their final battle. Then Kayla deciphers an angelic spell that leads the team to an overwhelming number of demons and Nightmares—and a horrific discovery: Apollyon plans to use Kayla as the horseman of Death.

Knowing Apollyon will move quickly now that Kayla knows the truth, Daniel keeps the team on the run, afraid to stay in one place too long for fear they will become easy targets. But when Kayla begins to lose control of the darkness inside her, it’s only a matter of time before she becomes the weapon Apollyon created her to be—a force so powerful, she will raise Lucifer from the gates of Hell. Daniel must make a choice: stop the girl he loves at all costs, or watch her level the earth.

And today, in a first for me, I’m so proud to reveal the cover for Vicki’s Dreamcatcher #3, HOLD ME TILL THE END.  This novel will be available later in 2019.
And don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of books by me, Courtney Brandt, and more!  Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the Red Team and you’ll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

SECRET NUMBER

To enter, you should know how much I love the number 17.  It’s my birthday, and St. Patrick’s Day, so it’s always been lucky to me (hopefully it will be lucky to you as well). Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the Red Team and you’ll have the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

CONTINUE THE HUNT

To continue on your numerical hunt for a jackpot of books, you’ll want to check out the next author on Red team, the marvelous Brendan Reichs.  (Also,  just because the Red team is so fantastic, here’s all the books you could win — including one of mine!)

 

Facebook Ad Management: Some Lessons.

Another day, another attempt at marketing my books, another fail…

I was feeling particularly optimistic at the start of 2019, and seeing a deal on a reputable, trustworthy Facebook group for authors that I have been a member of for over a year, I jumped at the opportunity to have someone manage my Facebook ads.  Having seen multiple authors achieve decent success in upping books sales and pages read, I decided to give this avenue of marketing a chance.

A bit of background – I have run Facebook ads in the past (usually in conjunction with the holidays) and have had decent CPC (cost per click) ratios.  Additionally, I have Amazon (or AMS) ads running passively, and have done so for over a year.  The cost for Amazon ads is relatively cheap, and does transfer into sales now and again.

So, let’s get into where the failures occurred.

I signed up blindly.  I did little to no research, other than recognizing the person whose company this is a USA Today best-selling author, and I have seen them in similar YA Facebook groups for a year.  In the world of self-publishing and these sorts of things, word of mouth is almost always the way to go, and I wish I would’ve asked around.

I had no goals.  Just saying ‘I want to sell more books’ is not a quantifiable goal.  I didn’t ask exactly how many books would be sold, or what sort of returns I should expect.

I did not communicate up front (although, neither did this company).  I didn’t outline my expectations, goals anything.  Of course, the basic ‘sell more more’ I thought (perhaps naïvely) was implied.

Bearing this in mind – why I was paying for this service – is that they are meant to be experts on creating Facebook ads that drive potential customers to your books.  That’s the point of it.  I’ve tried creating and running ads in the past, and honestly, a few of mine have done better than what happened.  So, in the first few days, I’m not sure what I expected – but I thought sales might go higher than say, 3 sales (actual numbers).  Apparently, a fact I only learned after the ads were started was how we were apparently targeting KENP (that’s Kindle Unlimited pages).  Which was never communicated to me.  So I reached out and asked why my sales were so low.

So, some tweaks were made to the ads, which had little to no impact.  I tried again to mention this and while I should’ve been up front about asking for a refund (which is what I was expecting), and was offered another month of ad management.  Even after following up again, a week later, with funds committed, I sighed and chalked up this misadventure to another failure in the story of my journey as an author.

I disclosed my disappointing numbers at the end of the month, and the only response was: “We set up a bunch of ads for February which are running now, still within your ad spend budget. So, keep in mind, that wasn’t much money in ad spend. Obviously, the bigger your ad spend the bigger your reach is.”

*facepalm*

Overall, how did my sales look for the entirety of their ‘management?’

55 – total books sold

7,600 – total pages read

1 – new review

Have you had a positive experience with a company who manages social media (specifically successful book ads on Amazon)?  If so, I would love to know!

I’m not going to publicly name the company I worked with – if you’re very curious, please feel free to contact me directly and I’ll be happy to discuss who I worked with.

Sunday Sentence.

Peterson, liberated from Sick Bay, arrived first with two cardboard boxes. ‘Some of your books,’ he said. ‘How do you organise them?’

‘By order of enjoyment.’

‘Yes, that’s helpful.’

‘Fiction goes on the top shelf, alphabetically, and everything else underneath in chronological order.’

Just One Damned Thing After Another: The Chronicles of St. Mary’s Book One (The Chronicles of St Mary’s 1), Jodi Taylor.

Even though I didn’t really like this book (weird character development, problematic pacing, and just…a disconnect), I did enjoy this quote.

Another 2019 Reading Challenge!

2019 reading challenge

I’m going to end up finishing a book this week (like, a real novel), so I’m starting 2019 off on a great start!

Some suggestions (and my books sometimes fall into multiple categories):

 

YA Scavenger Hunt, Fall 2018!

Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are SIX contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the BLUE TEAM — but there is also a red team, a gold team, an orange team, a red team, and an indie team for a chance to win a whole different set of books!

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE
 
Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the blue team, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).
 
Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.
Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by , at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
SCAVENGER HUNT POST
Today, I am hosting SL Beaumont on my website for the YA Scavenger Hunt!
SL Beaumont is the author of the young adult romantic mystery saga, The Carlswick Mysteries. She lives in beautiful New Zealand with her husband, three teenage sons and an enormous fluffy cat. Her passion for travel has seen her take many long haul flights from New Zealand. Her love of history helps determine the destination and the places she visits are a constant source of inspiration for her. She is a Chartered Accountant by day, having worked in London, New York and Auckland, and an author by night.

Find out more information by checking out the author website or find more about the author’s book here!

EXCLUSIVE CONTENT
 

How awesome is this?  Ms. Beaumont is giving away the prequel novella to her series The Carlswick Mysteries. The prequel is called Sophie’s Journal and the Bookfunnel link is (download for free, no e-mail required):

And don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of books by me, Courtney Brandt, and more!  Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the Blue Team and you’ll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

SECRET NUMBER

To enter, you should know how much I love the number 17.  It’s my birthday, and St. Patrick’s Day, so it’s always been lucky to me (hopefully it will be lucky to you as well). Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the Blue team and you’ll have the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

CONTINUE THE HUNT

To continue on your numerical hunt for a jackpot of books, you’ll want to check out the next author on Blue team, the marvelous Amalie Howard.

Also,  just because the Blue team is so fantastic, here’s all the books you could win!