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text 2019-07-20 05:52
Freebooksy delivers downloads, but that’s it

Last year I blew my book marketing budget on entering writing contests, a total of $305 including entry fees, books and postage.


Two good things came out of that experience. One was a positive and insightful review by Judge Number 54 of my novel Abandoned Dreams that I entered in The 26th Annual Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards. The other was the understanding the entire contest thing was a waste of money, or, to put it another way, it was a lot of money to spend for one review.


Though I have no evidence to prove it, I am convinced most, if not all contests are nothing more than revenue generating opportunities for writing platforms, groups and publications. 


Aside from the monthly stipend I receive for facilitating creative writing circles, I am determined this year to make more on my writing than I spend. That brings us to my latest novel, The Bird Whisperer, the Mattie Saunders Series Book 3, launched on May 6 of this year.


The book was published simultaneously on Draft to Digital, Smashwords and Kindle Direct Publishing.


After five weeks that included giveaways on BookLikes and LibraryThing, an email campaign with a free coupon code sent to 276 people on my email list, and numerous tweets and Facebook postings of a similar nature all I had to show was nineteen free downloads and one four-star review.


I changed my strategy, What did I have to lose?


I decided to promote The Rocker and the Bird Girl, the first book in the Mattie Saunders series in hopes it might create sales for The Bird Whisperer. I decided to enroll The Rocker and the Bird Girl in KDP Select and coordinate two of the five free days this exclusive listing affords you, and free email blasts with Awesome Gang, PrettyHot and MyBookPlace.


June 22 was the day and I assume the free email blasts went out, but nothing happened on Amazon.


Since research indicates fiction sales almost always peak within the first two to six weeks of the release the window for The Bird Whisperer was running out. I decided to take a chance and spend some money. I booked The Rocker and the Bird Girl on Freebooksy and coordinated it with the three free days I had left on Kindle Select.


The genre I chose was literary, the email would be sent to 123,660 Freebooksy subscribers, and the cost was $60 USD.


I held my breath.


The day the Freebooksy promotion broke 1,033 free books were downloaded and my author ranking went from 715,187 to 85,209 for All Books; 41,906 for Kindle eBooks; 56,679 for Kindle eBooks Romance; and, 24,882 for Kindle eBooks Romance Contemporary. The following day there were 131 downloads, and 31 on the third day.


Giving away books is one thing, but my benchmark for success is, and always will be, sales. As of July 20, 2019, twenty days after the Freebooksy promotion, two copies of The Bird Whisperer had been sold. However, The Rocker and the Bird Girl had picked up one text review and seven ratings with a 4-star average. There may be a few more sales and reviews trickle in over the course of this month but beyond that I wouldn’t attribute them to Freebooksy.


With the Freebooksy promotion and expenses such as proof books, books for beta readers and postage I’m in the red $152.15 so far this year. So much for my 2019 goal to make more on my writing than I spend.


But then there are still five months to go.


Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs




Author’s Amazon Book Page https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU


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review 2019-07-20 02:00
More Than a Rogue by Sophie Barnes
More Than a Rogue (The Crawfords, #2) - Sophie Barnes

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Emily Howard might be considered a spinster but she even though she's never been kissed, it doesn't mean she doesn't want to be.

Griffin Crawford has never been one to think about marriage but when he gets caught kissing Emily by the women of her family, he's prepared to do the right thing.

Except Emily wants nothing to do with a forced marriage and runs to try and escape back to her cottage out of London.

Griffin gives chase fearing for her safety and circumstances have them spending more time together, making it hard to keep certain feelings hidden.


As if reading her mind, he raised his chin a notch. “We’re not so dissimilar, are we? Both running from the mold our parents meant for us to fit into.”


More Than a Rogue is book two in the Crawford's series, the first had Griffin's Duke older brother falling in love with one of Emily's friends. I didn't read the first in the series and while I missed some prior background friendship information between Emily and her two friends and their Clearview home for children, I would still say you could start here. We're thrown right away into the story with Emily discussing with her friends how she wants to be kissed, a little hint that she's liked Griffin from afar, and then they get caught kissing. There's a tiny bit of road romance and then the majority is Emily and Griffin at a cottage liking one another and thinking the other one doesn't like them enough to do anything about it.


His eyes darkened as he took a step forward. The water slid away from the lower part of his chest, revealing his navel. Emily stared even as she took a step back. “I wonder,” Lord Griffin said as another stride offered a view of his hip, “how far this curiosity of yours,” his other hip appeared along with a narrow dart of black hair leading down over his pelvis, “will take you.”


Emily and Griffin do have their cute and steamy moments together but they got buried at times for me with the relentless “doesn't like me enough” angst that could have all been solved with a simple conversation. There was also a lot with the story plot that you'll just have to go along with, how Griffin is the only one to chase after Emily and why, Griffin deciding to pretend to be his brother so he can stay at the cottage with Emily, and all of Emily deciding Griffin doesn't love her enough when he shows and tells her in every possible way but saying the word “love”. The middle dragged out some with how Emily and Griffin went back and forth with their insecurities.


Reaching out, he steadied himself against a bookcase while trying to catch his breath. What the devil had Emily Howard done to him?


Not having read the first in the series, I don't know if the background on these characters was given more there but I would have liked to hear about Griffin's business in Vienna and how he fixes clocks and mechanical things, and definitely more information was needed on Emily's involvement with the home for children called Clearview. I never felt like I really knew these two characters, they and the story came off mostly mundane with little sparks of chemistry a handful of times.


This is…” her words turned into a sigh when he pulled her to him for added contact “… not very proper.”

He gave a low chuckle and let his hands slide up her arms, over her shoulders, along her neck, and into her hair. “It’s nothing compared with what I am thinking.”


If not completely memorable, this was a standard Regency feeling romance but what had me rounding down instead of up was the last twenty percent. The story at first feels ended and then there was an instance that felt messily tagged on and a completely unnecessary angst moment thrown in that gave the ending a very clunky feel; I wish this last percent had simply been edited out and instead went straight to the epilogue.


The separation between Emily and Griffin hinged on them just not talking to one another and that made a lot of the story frustrating. They had some good moments together but this was more average than memorable. If you read the first in the series, you'll probably enjoy more and want to see Emily and Griffin get their happily ever after and see what is teased ahead for their other friend Cassandra.


Because if there was one truth that rang loud and clear above everything else, it was that he wanted her for himself. Forever.

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quote 2019-07-19 10:23
“...he had no doubt that he knew who Ty was now, inside and out. He knew every one of Ty's quirks and weak spots and favorite things. He knew what Ty found funny and what annoyed him. He knew what would break his heart. He knew how to touch him to drive him wild, and when to back off when Ty was having a bad day. He knew that Ty was kind and loyal and funny, that he had a deep sense of honor and righteousness. He knew that Ty would die to save a stranger, and kill to save a friend. That was the type of man he was.”
Stars & Stripes - J. F. Harding,Abigail Roux

~ Stars & Stripes by Abigail Roux

(Cut & Run series #6)

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review 2019-07-19 10:19
"Spirt Witch - Lazy Girl's Guide To Magic #3" by Helen Harper
Spirit Witch - Helen Harper,Tanya Eby

I needed something, light, unchallenging but with enough going for it to keep me interested to read, so I picked up the third book in "The Lazy Girl's Guide To Magic" and settled in to listen.


I've resigned myself to having Tanya Eby as the narrator. She does a good job but I can't understand why Tantor picked an American with a very limited range of Brit accents to read a series set in England and Scotland and with no American characters.


That rant aside, I slipped on the earphones and gave myself up to the reading equivalent of eating a tub of salted caramel ice cream on a hot day.


It was as much fun as I expected but I was surprised to find that it had some real sadness in it. As a result of her encounter with a megalomanic necromancer in "Star Witch", Ivy, our reluctant hero and proudly lazy witch, can now speak to the dead. Some of the people she's speaking to have recently been murdered and I found an unexpected level of empathy for their loss. 


By the end of the book, Ivy's "Lazy Witch" persona had effectively been set aside as she finds herself wanting to get involved in preventing bad things from happening.


This was a satisfying happy ever after ending to the trilogy and a relaxing way to spend the day.

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review 2019-07-19 05:51
Magic's Price (Valdemar #8; The Last Herald-Mage #3)
Magic's Price - Mercedes Lackey

I'm not sure how I feel about this book, so I'm going to ramble (hopefully constructively) and maybe by the end I'll figure out a rating.


This series has been a rough ride for me so far. It started out with promising world-building but mostly mediocre execution. It hit some lows (my only one-star rating for this year thus far and a DNF) and it even managed to hit a high with the previous book in this trilogy, Magic's Promise. Everything that's bugged me about this series so far were absent from that book and it just worked. Everything clicked, everything flowed, the character arcs and plot arcs were spot on, the action was on page and fast paced but not hectic. I thought maybe, finally, Lackey had hit her stride.


Unfortunately, this book is right back to form: cramming too much into one book while not really focusing on anything for long, painful romantic relationship development, important developments happening off page, and my personal favorite - rape! Just because! *growls* She also threw in Van having a moment of forgetful incompetence, also just because. Neither this fit of laziness nor the rape are in any way required for anything that follows it to happen. Everything would've been exactly the same, so I'm baffled why they were included, and why Lackey has this obsession with throwing in rape in every series. Not only does it lose any kind of dramatic tension or constructive purpose when used so liberally and flippantly, but it's beyond contrived and tasteless. 


Another thing hurting this is I knew already how it would end, so I got a bit impatient at times to just let the story happen. On the flip side, it was neat to see how some things end up being the way they are later (chronologically).


BUT, there's still a lot to like here. Van's still great, and so is Savil and the various side characters. Van and his father come to a new understanding, which is great. I had my doubts about Stefen, especially after the reveal that he might be

Tylendel reincarnated,

(spoiler show)

but the way it played out was pretty satisfying and overall, despite the hasty setup, their relationship was a treat to read. I loved seeing Van happy finally! The time spent on Randale, Treven and Jisa was well done too, and I enjoyed seeing how Jisa and Vanyel handle the particular intricacies of their relationship after all these years. 


I'm just not sure it's enough anymore. And it's frustrating because Lackey can do better; I just read it in the previous book. But it seems like she was determined to make all these story arcs trilogies when they easily could've been fleshed out better with even just one more book in each arc - or even just fifty extra pages. Imagine Harry Potter squeezed into three 350-page books while still hitting all the same plot points and you've got the drift of what's going on here. At the same time, I'm getting used to - or perhaps resigned to - Lackey's style and while it's still not up to my expectations, I am able to go along with it more easily. 


Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the dreaded (serious super duper spoiler under here)

"bury your gays" at the ending. Why did Talia and her honey get a HFN but Van and Stefen/Tylendel never do? I don't think it quite meets the requirements of "bury your gays" despite both of them being dead by the end. Van sacrificed himself to save Valdemar and keep the enemy at bay for centuries to come, and so did Yfandes. He used his own agency and he was the main hero of this trilogy and remains a legend of high respect even in Talia's time. "Bury your gays" came about because shows and movies wanted a "have your cake and eat it too" situation, including gay characters for diversity and for the queer audience, but not wanting to keep their gay characters around because of the stigma by the mainstream audience. These characters were never developed, played no real part of the story and were killed off, usually in underwhelming and contrived ways, early on in the story. That's clearly not the case here, and Stefen gets to live to a ripe old age. There are even two other queer characters who are a couple and get to live happily ever after. They're side characters but they play important roles in this book and in Magic's Pawn. Although, given when this was written (early 90s) and the serious lack of positive representation in general at that time, I'm not going to quibble if other decide this does meet Bury Your Gays after all.


No, my issue isn't with how these characters died; they're not the first major character to die in this seres and I doubt they'll be the last. It's that Van had so suffer loneliness after Tylendel's death for almost two decades, until Stefen (Tylendel's spirit reborn) came along. They're happy for awhile, then Van dies and Stefen has to suffer loneliness for the rest of his life. And of course, both of them had to attempt suicide after losing their loves because reasons. I think Lackey was aiming for literary symmetry here, but it's not satisfying to read. 

(spoiler show)


I think pre-Magic's Promise, this would've been 3.5 stars easily, maybe downgraded to 3 stars because of the unnecessary rape. And it doesn't seem fair to lowball it because it's post-Magic's Promise either. So for now, I'm going to go with three "IDK what the hell else to rate it" stars.

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