Another busy week in the books! Tuesday, my sister and I took our dad to the Sounders game against the Whitecaps. The odd weeknight game was a rescheduled game from when The Sounders were battling for the CCL championship. We had some BBQ sandwiches before the game and watched our team win 4-0 while missing many of our usual starting XI due to international play.
I had some trouble hitting the button to take the picture, and ended up dropping it as my finger found its mark. I considered this pic “close enough” to not bother trying again. I’m very bad at selfies.
Yesterday, I headed up to Seattle for another two soccer games. The Sounders played again at noon, with The OL Reign playing later in the evening at seven. I went to this extended double-header with a friend of mine. His wife said that his getting to go for thirteen hours of soccer and fun was his father’s day gift.
Between the two games, we had five hours to kill. The two teams put on a pretty cool little event outside the stadium with local vendors and games. We hung out until the crowds died down a bit, then grabbed some of the food and a picture with the CCL trophy. I did not snap a picture of the BBQ Pork bun that I had, but I did find the website for the company serving them: Umami Kushi. I would describe it as an Asian/Cajun culinary fusion. My friend and I both enjoyed them.
Picture with the CCL trophy!
I had already changed into my OL Reign gear for the next game. (Friend only cropped out for privacy!)
This morning we went for an early Father’s Day lunch with my family to celebrate. All of the activity is why I’m late getting my post out this week, but sometimes life gets in the way. My manuscript is also back from the editor, so I still have to look at all those edits and get the book into KDP to order a proof copy! I really need another long weekend…How long until Independence Day?
This week marked my fourth wedding anniversary. I married my husband on St. Patrick’s Day in 2018, which happened to be a Saturday that year. We had already moved in together a few years earlier, so the day itself did not change anything about our relationship. It was, however, a fantastic reason to throw a party with friends and family together.
Our dragon cake toppers and a couple of the dice!
In keeping with our personalities, the event was super nerdy. Our guest gifts were d10s with our initials and d20-shaped coasters. We topped our cake with two dragons in the colors we wore, and instead of a photo booth, we hired a caricature artist for the evening.
Hidden Series Progress
I currently estimate myself behind on editing Hidden Sanctuary by about a week. This is based on my schedule of trying to release the paperback simultaneously with the ebook. The paperback versions require more up-front work with formatting and test prints. While the ebook schedule is well on-track, the paperback might be out a week or two later. I would rather push the release out than rush the editing process. This is a primary reason only the ebook is available for preorder.
My beta readers should receive it in early- to mid-April and then my editor in June. I’m starting to line up their time for those slots, pinning the schedule down as I progress through the alpha feedback. Once I post this blog, working through those revisions and edits will be the remainder of my day.
This week I sent the rough sketch and description of the cover to my artist for the series. He is doing research, and I hope to share the cover reveal with my newsletter subscribers early in the April newsletter (so don’t forget to sign up!). The rest of the world will see it sometime after, as I update it on Amazon and social media.
For today’s final note, I’m celebrating Hidden Memoryreceiving the tenth rating on Amazon! Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to leave a rating or review. Your support means so much to me.
If you have not yet purchased the first book in the series, you can find it in digital and paperback formats on Amazon. For those who have already read Hidden Memory, you can still go into your orders in your account to leave a review. I hope everyone enjoys these characters and this world as much as I do!
I feel like I have been playing catch-up lately, and it has been forever since I have done a general status update, so here is all the stuff that I have not shared since the holidays began!
I spoke before about seeing family for the holidays, which was great. I also received some great gifts from everyone. One was a cool cover for my ReMarkable2 notepad that can support it in different positions. It makes me feel better knowing it has something to protect the screen when I’m not using it. I’m currently wearing a blanket/poncho thing my parents gave me. Big Cat enjoys it as well for his lap time. A third thing I’m excited about is my new minimalist wallet arriving in the mail this week. I purchased it with a gift card received to pick one I liked.
After Christmas, I was cat-sitting for my parents during their visit with my brother and family in Florida. That mission was complicated by the week of snow we had in the area. They live within walking distance, so I made the trip every day. Footing became a bit treacherous on the ice and more effort than usual tromping through the snow, but the cat was not without company.
Going without trash service for three weeks during that period due to snow and ice became a bit more daunting. We don’t usually have too much trash, but a mix-up on recycling dates a month earlier meant we were already two weeks behind on that pick-up. Boxes were piling up in the kitchen with recyclables. When the bin emptied this week, we immediately filled it again. Hopefully, this catches us up for good this time.
You may have noticed some picture changes on the website already. If you did, you may already suspect I had some professional pictures taken, and you would be correct. I contacted a photographer to take a handful of “casual, professional headshots” for my author materials. A couple of the pictures are on the website, I changed my Facebook profile photo, and one is on the back cover of my paperback.
This one is on another page, but Big Cat wanted to make an appearance here too!
That’s right! Hidden Memory is also out in paperback as of this week! I ran through a couple of author proofs to make minor formatting adjustments, and my first few author copies are on their way—probably still in the printing stage—now! If you signed up for my newsletter, you should have seen it in your inbox earlier today, and it includes a chance to enter to win a signed paperback! If you did not sign up in time for this giveaway, do not lose hope. There will be more in the future, so go to the home page and sign up now so you don’t miss out!
With the paperback complete, I’m focused on finishing up the current draft of Hidden Promise. I will pass polished chapters to my alpha readers and then revise Hidden Sanctuary in preparation for beta readers. On the business side, I’m learning about advertising on Amazon and hoping it does not cost me too much for the education!
I will end on a celebratory note this week. It has been just over a month since the book was released. I had a relatively successful launch, thanks primarily to word of mouth through my friends and family network to their networks. My advertising has resulted in eight additional sales. I have five reviews on Amazon, and I have two preorders for the next-in-series! Thank you all for your support!
Snow on Christmas day is rare in the Puget Sound area. We’re more likely to see it in January or February, but there was some falling yesterday and has collected a fair amount as of this morning. We opened the back door for the cats. They are both indoor cats, but they find padding around in the snow intriguing. By “padding around in the snow,” I mean that if we carry them out they might slowly move about, and when we open the door they cautiously creep around on the first step. Either way, they are cats, with snow on their fur, so they are adorable.
“It’s so cold out there!” – Little Cat back from her snowy adventure.
I’m glad the snow held off yesterday though because it meant we were able to visit both parents and in-laws. This is the first time we sat down with some of them in a couple of years now. It’s challenging because not everyone is able to isolate as well as we can, and we are still trying to do our part by being careful. Our intent is to mini-quarantine for at least the next week just in case. Any risks we took should end with us.
Yesterday morning when my sister arrived with her kids, I just about–did–freaked out at them when my niece walked in saying nonchalantly “I got COVID-19 for Christmas.”
I looked at my sister with fire in my eyes. “Then what the F are you all doing here?!”
The two of them shared a look and started cracking up. I, of course, am unamused. They are not that selfishly irresponsible. I know they are not. But, there are so many people who are, and you hear stories like that all the time. For that moment, I believed they would do it.
It turned out my niece received a GiantMicrobe plush toy representation of COVID-19 in her stocking. The two of them conspired their little scene thinking about how hilarious it would be to get a reaction out of me. I can’t say I was sorry to rise to the occasion, and I’m glad they, and others, got a laugh out of it. As I said on Instagram, “well played, little one. Well played.”
We are big fans of Giant Microbes. The regular size plush tags always include interesting facts about the microbe in question.
My book was released just under two weeks ago. After the initial surge, sales have dwindled to a trickle. This is both expected, and not as bad as it sounds. You expect an initial surge driven by preorders, followed by a reduction. The sales still coming in are primarily due to social media sharing by friends and me. I have also had three of my ARC readers post reviews in various places along with one “verified purchaser” review. Through it all, I maintained a reasonable star rating.
I also set up a targeted keyword ad on Amazon Advertising, and I got my first sale from that effort on Friday. The cost per click and advertising cost of sales are…not great, but for my first book, it is going to be more about volume and bringing people into the series and along for the ride. I’m hoping for a preorder for book two to come in from one of these initial sales. I will have another little celebration at the sign someone likes the first enough to immediately sign up for the second.
Sales might see another little surge when I finish the paperback version. I have all the formatting done, and I’m going to try to order an author test copy in the next couple of days to see how it looks once actually printed. Barring any issues, I might have it out by the middle of January, ahead of the February target.
Reminder, I’m going to be doing a paperback raffle of sorts in my January newsletter (around mid-month), so if you are interested in trying for a free paperback and have not already signed up for the newsletter, you can do so below or on my home page.
For now, I’m back to editing and writing. Come back next week for another installment of the dream journal short story!
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As of today, December 4th, there are less than ten days until the official release of my first book. Also on today’s agenda is sending out a reminder to my ARC readers that they should be downloading their copy so they read it in time to get a review posted in that first week of release (hopefully).
For the last week, I have been looking into creating some social media images to post in advance and on the day of release. Right now, I am playing around with Canva’s free version. You can see some of the preliminary results as the cover image for this post as well as here:
Posted on Instagram with hashtags. One like from a random person? I call that a win!
I’m enjoying the program so far. It is easy to use and does a great job of providing a color palette that coordinates with any images I upload rather than making minor adjustments constantly until it is what I think looks good enough.
Yes, I am now also looking at the paperback version process, and it is just as complicated as I imagined it would be. As I don’t think I’m going wide distribution at this stage, I’m probably going to use the KDP cover creator to use my ebook cover and use a solid color for the spine and back. I might get fancy with a future release, but I have already spent a fair bit of money on this whole endeavor.
The other piece I waffled on was trim size. I usually bought mass-market paperbacks, so all of the books on my shelf were pretty small. If I went with that size, it would mean more pages and, therefore, more expensive to print while simultaneously appearing cheaper. Online guidelines are somewhat helpful, but this morning we went to the local bookstore (B&N) to see what fantasy authors are publishing trade paperbacks at these days for both trim size and price.
Based on my quick assessment, this is either 5”x8” or 5.5”x8.5” with a price range between $11.99-$21.99. The higher end of that range was for well-known or currently trending authors and series. I have decided to try 5.5”x8.5” and $12.99. We will see what the author test copy looks like once I put it all in the system and order one. I think I also need to purchase a barcode for this ISBN to put it on the cover, but that will be part of my final paperback research.
In Other News
We are going to have five weeks between the D&D game this week and our January session, so I’m in the process of setting up a little Jeopardy trivia game to play via Discord between sessions to keep info top of mind for everyone. I have set up the questions and the reward system. It is just for fun, but I’m hoping everyone finds it engaging and informative!
Our little tree is up. I wonder how long before one of the cats swipes the first ornament off.
We are hosting a little potluck for my immediate family in a couple of weeks. It is something we do every year to include my grandparents. We skipped it last year for obvious reasons. Everyone is protected now and being very careful, so we are moving forward with it for 2021. It will be good to have our little group together again.
Next week for the blog, I’m debating talking more about the imminent publication or sharing the next installment of my dream story. Time shall tell! I hope you are all having a great holiday season so far!