A Look at My Upcoming Novel Cosmic Liaison

“I believe we should have talked things through before you blurted out a name. If we’re supposed to be a team, then we need to work together as a unit.”

Takahashi Hiroto couldn’t seem to get past that I’d named the ship without asking. It’s not like I’d done it on purpose, there had literally been a ticking clock, and he and Laura hadn’t been jumping in with any suggestions, but I’d already explained that and didn’t feel like saying it again, so I proceeded to ignore him and look around the command center.

There were five chairs scattered throughout, which I found odd since there were only three of us, but maybe two Maree would be joining us. If that was the case, we had a better chance of fighting back. I was pretty sure I could take two on my own. At the very least, Laura and Hiroto could slow one down until I got there.

Picking up on the fact that I wasn’t listening, Hiroto let out a little sigh before moving to the side of the room farthest from me, where he began looking at the computer there. Fine with me, it would suck if we were on this ship and didn’t get along, but I could deal with it. Hopefully, he could too.

“So, how are you feeling, Laura?”

“Um, I’m fine, uh, do you still think…”

She trailed off, but I didn’t need her to say it. She wanted to know if my opinion had changed on the Maree, and it most certainly hadn’t, so I nodded my head, and her shoulders sagged. She didn’t even bother to look around the room before plopping down into a chair by a large console with all kinds of touch controls.

I decided to leave her alone for now and went to the center chair. It was the only one not in front of a complicated-looking computer system and was aimed at the viewer. I assumed it was the captain’s chair, though it might have just been the chair to sit in if you didn’t feel like doing something. Since I was kind of afraid to touch anything, I decided that was the best place for me.

Hiroto had ignored my exchange with Laura and pulled out a pair of glasses before plopping down in front of the most complicated screen around. It had graphs and squiggly lines everywhere and streams of data just going by constantly, not to mention tons of flashing lights. Just looking at it was enough to give me a headache.

As soon as my butt hit the captain’s chair, a rumble came from somewhere deep in the ship. I looked around. “What’s that?”

The metallic voice from earlier said, “The engines have been activated, and the ship is preparing to take off. Your liaison will be joining you shortly.”

Gripping the arms of my chair tightly, I glanced to where Laura was sitting. She was desperately trying to find a seatbelt, which had my hands searching for one as well. I could feel the ship moving underneath me, it was a subtle movement, but my stomach felt like it was bottoming out. I had no idea how much time we had but assumed the ship wouldn’t have all the fancy comforts of The Emissary.

“Push the round button on the inside of the right side of your seat,” Hiroto called out instructions, and Laura and I quickly found the button he was talking about. A thin strap slipped over my lap and pinned me into place. I didn’t like it.

Frowning at the strap, I quickly pushed the button again, and it retracted. Well, that was something, at least. As the rumble picked up, I decided it was probably better to be strapped in. It would suck if this were how the science experiments started, and I strapped myself down, but it would also suck if I went flying through the room and broke my neck because I didn’t put my seatbelt on.

Gritting my teeth, I waited for what I wasn’t sure. A great surge of power, to be thrown back in my seat, a loud blast of sound, but none of that happened. The rumble we’d heard died down.

I had just retracted my seatbelt again when a hologram sprung to life in front of us. A male Maree stood there. He was very tall with white hair, though I don’t think that had anything to do with age. He had pale skin and large black eyes. I got a very modelesque vibe from him, and he seemed to be looking down his thin, small nose at us.

“Hello. My name is Juini Careplic of the Diamond Map Corporation. I will be your liaison for the duration of your time with the corporation. Let’s get started.”

Wait, what? A mapping company?

I could have just been quiet and listened and counted on him to answer my questions, but that’s never been my style.

“What are you talking about? I thought we were with the Alien Diplomatic Corp.” I thought no such thing, but he didn’t need to know that.

Juini gave me a very put-upon look, and he shifted his stance before saying, “As I was about to explain, the Diamond Map Corporation has purchased your contract to help us in the noble pursuit of documenting and mapping the entire galaxy. Our task is impossible, which is why whenever we come across a new race of aliens, we evaluate whether or not they are worth recruiting. Earth barely passed initial tests, which is why the sampling size is so small. However, if you succeed, we will add more of your kind to work towards our goal.”

As I processed what he’d just said, Hiroto raised his hand and then quickly dropped it before asking, “Are any of the groups going to be diplomats?”

Smirking, Juini said, “No. I see I’m going to have to spell it out for you. My people, the Maree, travel through space. When we’ve deemed a race worthy of recruitment, we decide the best way to approach. In the case of Earth, with your numerous planetary issues, it was reasonably straightforward. Using our advanced technology, we solved the global warming problem that would have devastated your planet.

“Once that was done, we spoke with your leaders and told them we were looking for diplomats. They wanted to send their most experienced candidates, of course, but if we’re truly to know how good a workforce you will be, we need a sampling of your most average citizens. That would be you. So now you get to travel through space, making all kinds of discoveries, and help expand our data collection.”

I leaned back in my chair and looked at him dumbfounded. None of my scenarios, nothing I had thought of, had even come close to what he’d just said. Yes, they’d lied to us, though I’m sure they could have pawned it off on a translation error. Diplomat, explorer, they were similar enough and had overlapping job duties. I wasn’t even sure it wasn’t a translation mistake. How could I have been so wrong?

Explorers? Flying through space mapping shit? Weren’t we going to be cannon fodder? Weren’t we going to be experimented on?

We were taken from our planet under false pretenses, and now we were supposed to make discoveries for no pay. So it was slavery, but nothing like the kind I had imagined.

As if sensing where my mind was, Juini crossed his arms, cocked his hip to the side, and said, “You’ve got a nice deal. Not only are you being paid by your home country in your own currency, but we’re also paying you as well. You can also potentially unlock new technology and benefits for your country and planet for every discovery you make. It’s all in your employment paperwork.”

We looked at him confused, and if he’d been human, I’m sure he would have rolled his eyes. A tablet appeared in his hands, and he typed on it for a bit before looking back up and saying. “It seems as though someone skipped a step with your orientation. All of this should have already been explained to you and your packets gone over. Typical, always cutting corners. The Emissary thinks that they don’t have to do the administrative side of things just because they recruit. You can’t trust the government to do their job these days.

“I’ve forwarded the packets to you. Read over them when you can, and if you have any questions, we can talk about them later. For now, we need to continue with more important things.” I had so many questions running through my head. Everything that I’d assumed seemed to be wrong. Weren’t we even going to be slaves? How could this have happened? What the fuck was I going to do for the next ten years if I wasn’t going to be leading a revolt?

2020 Update

So, things did not happen how I had planned. Like everyone else, 2020 has not been the year I was hoping it would be. It’s been a creative killer, for me. My life has been managing my anxiety while I help my family to cope with all of the new hurdles. Nine months in, and I guess I’m getting used to this new normal. At least used to it enough that I’ve been able to do some writing.

I’ve been reading romances like crazy. I know how they’re going to end. I know everyone is going to be happy. They give me comfort. However, I haven’t been able to write romance. I’ve felt the need to write, though, so I dug through my OneDrive folders and found a couple of books I’d mostly completed that I really liked. One is a sci-fi story inspired by Star Trek that I finished one year for NaNoWriMo. The other is an urban fantasy, a genre that I love to read, but I’ve never written.

As always, I’ve had a hard time finding time to do anything writing and publishing wise. I currently have to teach my daughter first grade, which has been a huge challenge on top of everything else that’s involved in taking care of a household. When I can work, I’ve been focusing on editing, getting these stories ready to publish. I have no idea when that will be, hopefully, this year, but we’ll see.

I know these books are not what you’ve come to expect from me. So I understand if you’re not excited about them. However, I do hope you’ll like them. They are both the first in potential series since I seem unable to write anything else. The urban fantasy has a definite ending to the story, but there is a setup in the epilogue for another book. The sci-fi book ends on a cliffhanger, but I’ve already written the second book. I’m planning on holding off publishing the sci-fi book until the second is ready to go as well.

There’s still a lot of work left to go on these projects, but I wanted to give you all an update. As I get closer to publishing, I’ll be posting excerpts from the books on my blog. Until then, stay safe everyone!

2019 Year-End Update

This post is for fellow self-published authors and those interested in the business side of self-publishing. I will try to make an update on my writing progress in January. 

So it’s a little early to do a year-end update, but so far, December seems to be a dude for me. This has been a hectic year. I’ve published three books and generally dedicated a lot of time to writing and self-publishing. Sadly, all of that work hasn’t seen much results.

I’m going to post a couple screenshots of my Sales Spreadsheets so people can get an idea of the numbers I’ve had this year. Even though the numbers are far from impressive, I like to show them so that people can see the lower end of the self-publishing spectrum.

 

Book Sales

2019 Book Sales

Free Downloads

2019 Free Downloads

 

What these numbers tell me is that when Amazon moved Abducted into the Erotica Dungeon, everything started to drop. It’s less evident in the Book Sales picture, but here’s one without the new series included.

 

Book Sales Without New Series

2019 Book Sales without Course for Adventure

The absolute hardest part of self-publishing is discoverability. You can write an entertaining story, pay for a fantastic editor and cover artist, and still not have book sales and downloads. If people can’t find your book, they can’t download it. When Amazon moved Abducted into erotica, they made it harder to find, which had a significant impact on my discoverability.

Abducted was my most visible book. It stayed on Amazons top 100 Free in Sci-Fi Romance for years. It’s been downloaded over 23,000 times. The read-through rate to my second book is 6%, which doesn’t sound like much, but the read-through for free books is pretty low, and from what I’ve read, that’s not a bad number (correct me if I’m wrong please). Of that 6 % that read Abducted and then go on to read Stolen, 80% end up reading Hunted.

My reviews are almost all positive, even on Goodreads, which is a notoriously difficult site to get good reviews. None of my books have less than 4 Stars on Amazon, and my Goodreads average rating is 3.91. Part of those high numbers are my number of reviews, which is relatively small, but I like to think the quality of my work has a part to play as well.

My largest failing with self-publishing has been advertising. I apply for a Bookbub frequently (with the plan of putting it on a credit card if I ever get it lol), I’ve tried to understand and use Facebook and Amazon ads but haven’t put much money into them, and I’ve used a few smaller newsletter ads. My time is limited, and I put most of it into writing. Researching ads has been confusing and frustrating for me. A lot of the seemingly useful advice is behind paywalls that, after editing and covers, I don’t have the money to pay for. I’m going to try to do more research in 2020 and make some headway in this area. Hopefully, I’ll see results.

This year I’ve written over 140,000 words. I don’t know the exact number because I was pretty bad about keeping track. These last couple of months, I’ve done no writing. My family moved for the second time this year, and I haven’t had the time to write. I also haven’t felt a desire to write. I’m not suffering from writer’s block, because the words, ideas, and stories are there. What I’ve been doing is rethinking my writing and self-publishing goals.

I’m not going to lie and say that money doesn’t have an impact on what I write. Even though I’ve never made a significant amount, I still have the dream that I can make as much money writing as I would make working a regular job. As someone without a degree or experience in anything other than customer service, that’s not a lot of money, but so far it has remained far from my grasp.

Seeing Amazon so thoroughly cut my sales with a move I have no control over has caused me to re-think writing in the romance genre. In a perfect world, I would just move away from Amazon, but that’s not an option, so I have to find ways to work in their eco-system. The first thing I ever published was an episodic fantasy story. I really enjoyed writing it, but in the end, I decided that I would enjoy writing Sci-Fi Romance more, so I changed my pen name and started releasing the Twin Moons of Andove books. I think it’s time to move back to Fantasy. Romance will be present, I can’t see myself ever excluding it, but it won’t be my main focus. I’m debating on whether or not I’ll change pen names (thoughts are welcome).

Writing Fantasy will also force me to work on my world-building, a part of my writing that has been lacking recently. Before I ever published, I used to spend hours creating a world, and I never ended up finishing a story. When I started cutting down on that time, I started finally completing projects. Hopefully, with all the experience I’ve gained, I can merge those two together and finish stories with more world-building.

Those are my goals for 2020. World-building, researching ads, and finishing books in the Fantasy genre.

I hope all of this information has been helpful, at the very least, an insight into my experience self-publishing.

Have a Happy New Year!

 

Book 3 in the Course for Adventure Series Now Available!

Trouble in Paradise is the third book in the Course for Adventure series. Raven and Bob were a fun couple to write and I hope you all enjoy reading them!

CfA #3 (3)

Year, 2419…

Raven has spent her entire adult life working to create a successful business. A lone wolf on a world that was made for pack creatures, she has built her own place. Struggling to create a good work-life balance Raven jumps at the opportunity to go on a once in a lifetime vacation with her best friends.

Bob was built to be the future of warfare. A super-soldier, his only enemies are the people that created him. Leading his fellow lab rats to freedom is just the beginning. Bob is going to make the people that created him pay for everything they’ve done.

Romance wasn’t on Raven or Bob’s radar, but a mistaken encounter causes sparks to fly. Distractions abound, but Raven and Bob can’t stop thinking about each other. Will these two decide to work together, or will they keep holding back?

 

AmCom120x28Amaon. ukamaon.caAmazon. Au

 

Researching Authors in My Genre

Today I spent a fair amount of time doing some research on comparable authors as well as Best Selling Authors in my genre. I also looked into genres that I’m thinking about branching out into just to get an idea. If you’re writing to market, this is something you would do before you even starting writing. However, looking into it afterward isn’t a bad idea either.

One of the few bits of information Amazon gives you is an ability to look at a list of best sellers, by genre, updated hourly. This list will change as new books are released, so what you’re getting is a snapshot. I try to look at these lists periodically, and because of that, I’ve begun to notice names that are always on there. Since I read in the genre, I was already familiar with a few. Being familiar also allows me to remove books from my comparable list that don’t technically fit my genre but have somehow made their way on the list.

I’m looking at A.G. Riddles books which are not, in my opinion, Sci-Fi Romance.

Anyway, if you’re already published on Amazon, you can get comparable authors on Amazon by looking at the section called Also Boughts on your book page. Unless you’ve run a free promo or have had just friends and family buy your books, you can typically get a good idea of what other people are buying in your genre.

So what I did was look at my comparables, and make a list of the authors that showed up frequently. Then I went to Best Seller pages and made even more lists. This gave me a lot of names to look at, but not all names are worth doing a lot of research into, and since I didn’t want to get overwhelmed, I cut out a few.

The previously mentioned authors that were just showing up on the lists because of a fluke and had nothing to do with my genre were eliminated. Anyone that has only a couple of books published was culled, as well as someone who doesn’t have an author rank.

Author rank is at the bottom of an author’s Amazon profile page. If someone sells enough books, they will be given one. I do not have an author rank, because I haven’t sold enough so it makes sense that I would look at people with ranks.

Even with those qualifications, I still have a fair amount of authors, but that gives me a nice sample size of information. With just the list of names, I’ll be able to see any overlap in genres, which can tell me if readers cross over between the genres I’m researching.

What I’m looking at now is whether someone is an Indie publisher, if they’re in Kindle Unlimited, the price point of their books, and an approximation of the length of their books. Adding all of that information to my list of names took a lot of time. Pretty much all of my free time today, but I’m looking forward to seeing what I can glean from all of the data.

What I plan on doing next is looking into the online presence of these authors. Are they using Twitter, Facebook, or a blog? How often do they post? What is user engagement like?

Social media is not my strong suit, though, I spend too much time there. It doesn’t come naturally for me on how to post on each site. Facebook is more of a this is what I’m doing right now, while Twitter is more of an opinion or something funny. Blog posts seem to vary between personal or helpful.

In the end, all of this may not help me, and I may not end up using all of it, but it should give me information on trends in the genre. Trends that aren’t necessarily going to change quickly like themes. While last month people were really into domination, it appears this month has been reverse harems or just multiple partners.

Scheduling

Before I started out on my most recent foray into writing and self-publishing at a steady pace, I wrote out a schedule. I love plans, and for the most part, I’m good about sticking to them. I based all of my numbers from the last time I was publishing and writing frequently and went from there. It was nice, detailed, and I’d even remembered to work in time for unexpected delays.

All of my careful planning is slowly starting to erode away. Editing the first two books took much longer than I had estimated, which is a good thing. These two books are the best-edited books I’ve put out. I’m proud of that and of them. However, that has altered the schedule.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Schedules are going to change, and I have to be flexible. I am disappointed, especially since it doesn’t look like I’ll be releasing a book every thirty days, but I’m not going to be far off. The schedule hasn’t been completely obliterated, yet. I will more than likely get the third book out on schedule, but the fourth book is where things will get delayed.

The plus side to these delays and all of this new information is that the next schedule I make will be better. I will be able to look at what I’ve accomplished with the time I have available and have a better idea of what I’ll be able to do.

CfA #2

Now available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited Love on Strike book 2 in the Course for Adventure Series.

New Release

Love on Strike book two in the Course for Adventure series comes out on Amazon today! I’m so excited. If you haven’t read the first book, First Time Out, then you’ll be happy to know that it is currently FREE! What better time to start the series??

CfA #2

Year, 2419

Lily has been poor her entire adult life. A sudden change of fortune has her convincing her best friends to go on the vacation of a lifetime. Lily can’t wait to spend time with them, but once on board the Galactic Princess they seem to have other plans. Then she meets a scowling cyborg, and Lily has a distraction all her own.

Abel wants nothing more than to be alone. Tortured and experimented on his whole life, he finally has freedom. After seeing the worst the universe has to offer Abel believes solitude is his only chance at peace. When he meets a beautiful Nian woman that is unbearably nice to him, he starts to rethink everything.

After a less than ideal first meeting and a few more rocky encounters the universe continues to throw Lily and Abel together. A friendship blossoms, but can it grow into something more?

AmCom120x28Amaon. ukamaon.caAmazon. Au

 

Little update

I don’t have much to update right now so I hesitated making a blog post, but figured I might as well so y’all don’t forget me.

I’m writing book three in the Course for Adventure series. It’s going well, but it’s early days. I’m not as far along as I wanted, but that’s fine. I’m still set to be ready in time for the deadline I’ve given myself.

Love on Strike, the second book in the Course for Adventure series is all set to go. There’s a pre-order link, and the final version is uploaded on Amazon, so that’s a huge relief. I’m so glad that I got to work with Victory Editing again, I love them over there.

Self-Publishing wise I’m working on some edits for the Fringes of the Universe series. I loved writing that series, but looking back now there are things I keep wanting to tweak. Right now, I’m not making any significant changes, just adding some commas that were left out. The editor I used for those books…well, let’s just say I’m not using them anymore.

Once those edits are made, I’ll be uploading the books onto all platforms, finally. I also plan on creating a boxset.

Personal life-wise, my daughter starts kindergarten this week, and I’m excited for what I hope will be more free time, even though I’ll still have the two-year-old with me; but I’m also sad and scared and nervous. I’ve always got to be nervous or worrying about something. The world would stop turning if I didn’t. She’s going to do great, and my goal is to not cry in front of her. I might have to let my husband take her in on that first day.

So many new books are out right now that I am struggling with picking one to read. Which means I end up playing more Minecraft. I have also started quilting. I came up with a design in Minecraft (huge nerd sitting over here), and I decided I’d give it a try. I’ll try to post updates when I’m done.

 

Release Date Lessons

Untitled design (2)

The last post I mentioned that I wasn’t at home when First Time Out released, but I obsessively checked the internet, and you all made this the best release I’ve ever had. So awesome anniversary present everyone, thank you so much! 🙂

Lessons I’ve learned from this release that will hopefully make the next ones better.

I really, really, need to make a checklist of things to do before a release. I’m fairly certain I remembered everything, but the anxiety and constantly thinking I’d forgotten something was annoying. A list will help that.

As tempting as it is to do, I shouldn’t check my sales and reviews as frequently as I was doing. It was incredibly exciting watching bars and numbers grow, but if they didn’t, I took an emotional hit. Not every release is going to be this good, and I don’t need to put myself through that emotional roller coaster.

Taking a vacation during a release might not be the best way to handle things lol. I don’t know, maybe it was. I was distracted a fair amount of the time, but I had people emailing and texting, and I might not have been as attentive to my family as I should have been. Since my husband was just as excited, he didn’t seem to mind, but it wasn’t fair. Maybe one day I’ll get to a point where release day is no big deal? Probably not lol

Pre-orders are awesome. So much of the usual work was already done by doing things this way, and I really loved that. It made it possible for me to actually leave things be on the day, so release day was not as stressful as it could have been.

I’m so excited to finally be back writing and releasing books. I’m also incredibly happy with the momentum that First Time Out has had, I hope it continues that way, but if it doesn’t I feel like I’ll emotionally be able to handle it. Which is progress!

Anyway, I’m waiting to get the final edited copy of Love on Strike, and I’ve been working on Course for Adventure book 3 in the meantime. I’m starting to wonder if each successive book in the series is going to get longer and longer. We’ll see lol!

For all of my readers not on Amazon, the final book in my Fringes of the Universe series is out of Kindle Unlimited, and I’m working on getting the entire series on other retailers. Before I do that I’m going to get them edited again. I haven’t had any complaints from readers with them, but I’ve never been happy with their level of edits. I don’t believe another pass through will hurt things at the very least and it won’t change the story, just make it a better read. There will be commas.

Update on the erotica dungeon, unfortunately, Amazon did not rule in my favor and Abducted is stuck there. I don’t have any kind of appeal that I can make so there’s nothing I can do about it. I’m watching my other books, and so far there haven’t been any other changes, but if it does happen, I might re-think writing romance. Apart from the release date of First Time Out, there has been a noticeable drop in the downloads of Abducted, which has led to an overall decline in income. It’s already difficult to get your books in front of readers eyes, but then to be put somewhere that lowers your visibility further is very frustrating.

In other news! I’ve started a quilting project. Recently while playing Minecraft and trying to decorate a boring room, I started making a design and then next thing I know I was thinking, “This would make a cool quilt.”

I’ve never quilted, but I’ve wanted to for a few years now. On our vacation, I found myself in a quilting shop, and then there was a fabric called Bedrock that was perfect and then BOOM fabric bought. So I kind of have to make it now. I’ve been able to cut up all the fabric into 5-inch squares, but I get the feeling that was the easy part. I’ve been posting updates on Twitter so if anyone wants to follow that lovely process just follow me over there.

First Time Out Release Day!

It’s the day before my anniversary. We are in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. So this is a scheduled post.

The book I’ve been working on for months, the one I’ve been talking a LOT about is finally available!! There has been a lot of work put into this book and the series as a whole so far. Even though this is far from my first release, it might be the one I’m most nervous about, but it’s finally here! So no more worrying, right?!?!

Anyway, here’s the pretty book cover that I’m pleased with and links to where you can purchases it on Amazon.

CfA #1

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.ca

Amazon.com.au