Mailing Lists, InstaFreebie, and marketing

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year all!

I’ve been having a wonderful Christmas season. And the best present I’ve gotten (beside the lovely notebook and galaxy-themed earrings) are my new subscribers!

I currently have 430 subscribers on my email list. 430! And we haven’t even gotten to the several give-aways I’ve signed up to do in January. I’m amazed and so so happy 🙂

It begins with InstaFreebie, a site where you can upload your book, and anyone with the link can download it to their email. There’s a fair bit of customization- how many downloads you allow, the file types, or whether or not they can join your newsletter. For one of the paying plans you can make it mandatory to sign up for your newsletter before you can download it.

I was a little hesitant about this, not wanting to force anyone on the newsletter if they just wanted to read Larkspur– but if it was presented as an option, it was just a little checkmark underneath the space to type in your email. And you and I both know that no one ever checks the little checkmark. Other authors also told me to make it mandatory- after all, there’s an unsubscribe button, so folk can always leave if they really don’t want to  stay.

So I went ahead and made it mandatory, then signed up for every insta-freebie give-away group thingy I could find. One or two now in late December, and like 5 in January-February.

Best decision ever. Last week I had 26 subscribers and never sent an email. Now I have a few hundred, might get to a few thousand, and plan to send stuff out on a monthly or so basis. Info, tidbits, other books in similar genres that look awesome. Should be super fun!

(Oh, and I’m still doing newsletter swaps! I had to retweak some of the wording on the google form, but that will be back soon as well).

I think I’m going to go and make instafreebie a more permanent part of my marketing and mailing list. I’m going to take down the sendinblue sign-up page up in the menu and in the book, and make the instafreebie link the main one to get to my newsletter. Also going to bump Larkspur back up  to 99cents on the ebook sites. And then I need to write a few more shorter works to offer as alternatives on insta-freebie if folk don’t want Larkspur and would rather something else.

Plus Delphinium, and the wiki, and The Wolf Within, and learning how to use my drawing tablet to make ever better covers

EDIT: I lied. Just bumped up Larkspur on B&N and Kobo. I’ll email Amazon about it when they change their prices. From now on my books will only be free through Instafreebie and my newsletter (which now has a nifty page up in the menu). You can, of course, always just sign up, get the book, and unsubscribe  😉

Vampire

I suppose it was bound to become a chore. Was it not a bother to go out and hunt as an old man, even if as a young one all you could think of was to the best horse, your hounds, and how you would finally find the white buck?

Still, I was hungry, and so I followed the two girls from their evening entertainment. They walked together, believing themselves safe in each other’s company, only ten minutes from the apartment.

One pulled out a cellular telephone and began to read it as she walked, managing to avoid stepping from the curb with the help of her friend. They giggled and chattered about whatever was being read, but I ignored them.

As they were passing an alley (I thought it would be a lovely place for my meal), someone else stepped from the shadows. I stopped and waited, watching.

“Hey, sorry, but can I borrow your phone? Mine ran out of batteries, I can’t call a cab or my parents.”

“No problem!”

And without any sense of self-preservation they moved to the young man. I believe the second young lady thought something was off, she seemed to hesitate, but social norms precluded her from acting because, after all- it would be rude to just assume.

He used a knife with some efficiency, slashing the throat of the first woman before grabbing the second. A hand to her mouth muffled her scream and a warning made her stop struggling. It seemed the one he held was the main target, the second just a mistake to be cleaned up.

“Perhaps I may be of assistance?”

I stepped out into one of the dim street-lamps, raising a hand. He held the girl closer to his chest and pressed the knife even harder into her throat. A trickle of blood made it’s way down her collar.

“Oh, please, don’t spill her blood all over the ground. It would be a waste.” I bent over to pick up the fallen girl, already dead, most of her blood painting the sidewalk. Her phone was thrown as she fell and was by the trashcans.

A pity. Brushing off her wound I sniffed and tasted- no, no good. Too much was gone, what was left was bitter with a spike of fear and pain.

“I hope you have more finesse with that one,” I said, dropping the first girl. “You could have at least left me one.”

He had paled while watching me, but had not said or done anything else. When I turned to him he tried to gather up his courage.

“So you’re a wei– vampire?” I had heard the insult before he swallowed it. For not finishing the word I let him keep his tongue.

“Yes, I am. Now, let go of that poor girl, she’s frightened to death. Look, she’s soiled herself already. Surely that is not what you’re hoping to happen.”

He glanced to the girl, who had curled up as much as she could, trying to twist away from him and as far into herself as possible. She had indeed wet herself, and now shook in silent sobs while trying to keep breathing against his gloved hand.

“I wanted to just… I love her,” he said, “you know? I’ve seen her every day for three years at the cafe and she’s moving to a different town, another college somewhere, and I just.. hey, Sarah, I’m sorry, I mean, I don’t want to scare you.”

“Good man,” I complimented as she seemed to relax ever so slightly. The knowledge that this wasn’t a random murderer was often helpful to victims, even if it did not usually help their survival in any way.

“May I help? Perhaps I could solve all of your problems.”

“How do I know you won’t take her instead? Or kill us both?”

I held my hands out in a gesture of peace. “I give you my word.”

“Your word?” He scoffed at the term and my patience grew thinner.

“Yes,” I said. “My word. I promise she will stay with you.”

He nodded, begrudgingly, and I wanted to tell him to speak up when he was spoken to by his betters.

Ah yes, this is how one found themselves reinvigorated. A child, a pupil. In teaching one could relive the mayhem of youth.

“Good. Now, first, let us get her comfortable.” I held out my hand and he let go of the girl–Sarah. She jumped away from him, tripping over her friend’s body, before she let out a shriek and collided into me.

I wrapped my arms around her, hugging her rather than restraining her. “Sarah,” I said into her ear, “my dear Sarah, shh. It is alright. Would you like to change out of your clothes? They can’t be comfortable.”

She was shaking, but did whimper something of a ‘yes’ so I took that as consent.

“Turn around,” I ordered the man. He stood there a moment, bloody knife still in his hand, unsure if I was going to take her away. I held back a sigh- of course children were often stupid and had to have everything explained to them.

“You are not her husband, or betrothed. You will not see her naked. Now turn around.”

“Neither are you!”

Rebellion. Oh, fun.

“I am over two hundred years old, you are both infants in comparison. Are you suggesting a father helping to change his daughter is doing so with lustful thoughts?”

“N-no.” He turned around without another word, finally accepting my tale and authority. Whether it was my tone, or the fangs that I had allowed to flash in annoyance I was not sure.

“Now, Sarah,” I said. “You and your friend are about the same size, yes? Have you ever borrowed each other’s clothes?”

“Yes. Emmy and I have similar styles, I’m actually wearing one of her favorite…” she stopped talking to look at the body of her friend and her shuddering body became one frozen in fear.

“Shh, don’t mind her. It was just her time to go.” I stroked her hair as I spoke and whatever mystical properties kept me alive and in need of blood also began to calm her. It did not matter how absurd my statement was, if I was saying it it was alright.

“Yeah.. and she was being a bitch earlier.”

I laughed. The tension gone she looked down at her pants and wrinkled her nose. Undoing a button she slipped her pants from her, then her underwear, and stood half naked while unsure of how to get the clothes she needed from the a still-warm corpse.

I did it for her, in a flash having taken off the bloody jeans that, while not much better, were still preferable to piss.

She put on the clothes and thanked me.

“We have been here long enough,” I announced, after the boy– he introduced himself finally as Jeffrey– had turned around. “Now, Jeffrey, where would you going to take Miss Sarah?”

“To my house. My basement.. I made a room for us down there, got contractors for a kitchen and.. thought I’d keep her there, keep her with me.”

“Yes, keep her with you, wishing to save her. Wouldn’t you like that, Sarah? To belong?”

“I would, yeah. It would be nice. That’s why I was leaving anyway, I didn’t belong here..”

“Of course you did! You belong with me!”

She shrunk away from him at the outburst, but after looking at me for confirmation, she gave a shrug. “I could try being with you.”

I moved over to Jeffrey, Sarah holding my hand as we went deeper into the alley and behind the homes.

“You, Sarah, shall be with Jeffrey. And you, Jeffrey–” I turned his head so he looked me in the eyes. “You shall belong to me. You will do as I say, act appropriately for your station, and never tell a soul of anything that has happened or will happen.”

“Yeah, ok.”

I smiled, my fangs peeking out again. We had gone a few blocks, far away enough not to be the first seen, but close enough to hear police sirens. There were none.

“If we may stop a moment before we continue to your abode, Jeffrey,” I said. “I am still quite hungry.”

I pulled Sarah closer and she stepped into my embrace without question. Jeffrey opened his mouth to complain, but I held up a finger and shushed him. “I shall not harm her.”

He swallowed hard but stayed silent.

I ran my hand through Sarah’s hair again. It was short, a bit spiky. She reminded me of a woman I had known in my youth.

Even without asking she tilted her head to the side, forehead resting on my shoulder, exposing her throat. I bent down and bit.

The first mouthful was honey. She made a small squeaking noise at the initial puncture but stayed still and allowed me to drink my fill. I needn’t much and took less than humans asked for in donations to aid others. I pulled away and licked my lips before pulling out a handkerchief so she could press it to her wound.

“Thank you.”

“You are most welcome.”

She smiled up at me and I made a swift decision at her adoring look. I bit my own finger and placed it between her lips. She made the same squeaking noise as before and my heart warmed.

“Hey!” Jeffrey seemed to have finally lost his patience. “Why are you doing that? Won’t that–”

With my free hand I grabbed his collar and lifted him into the air.

“Why yes,” I agreed, looking back to the girl that I was nursing with my blood. “That would make her my daughter. I believe I prefer her to you.”

“You said she’d be mine! You gave your word!”

“I said that she would be with you. I never specified the arrangement.”

I turned to Sarah, who was taking in the world around her as her body changed and became something immortal. It was early, the change would take place over the next few days in great intensity, but already her senses would be sharpening. She would also be hungry.

“You said you’d help. How is this helping?!”

I chose to ignore the accusation as he twisted in my grip. It was no use.

“Sire?” Sarah was looking to me, taking me in, the knowledge of our kind filling her brain and instilling lessons into her flesh like instinct.

“Sebastian,” I corrected. I would not be that strict with my dear daughter. “Though you may call me whatever pleases you. If I object I shall say so.”

“He wanted to take me, to keep me and hurt me. Please don’t let that happen.”

“Of course not, dear. He is your pet, you may punish him as you see fit. Are you hungry?”

At her nod I threw Jeffrey down. She silenced him as he had her, a hand to his mouth, though she crushed his jaw with the grip. I did not correct her.


It’s been a while since I’ve written a Scene and posted it here. I’ve been busy with Delphinium and marketing, but I thought I owed y’all something.

I actually wrote this around Halloween for a reply in reddit’s Writing Prompts subreddit, so it doesn’t really fit the season, though you can imagine snowfall if that helps 😉

I didn’t add a realm to this Scene because it doesn’t really fit that well in the Noctuina we know (I don’t think I’ve ever posted something in first person either). It’s more Urban Fantasy than I’m used to as well. But lately I’ve also been thinking about the timeline of my world and how, while slow, technology does advance in some realms. Maybe it’ll get to a point where it’s more like our time and I can write versions of Urban Fantasy in Noctuina? And how will the people who grew up, who lived, through the medieval eras deal with modern life?

I have two mostly-finished Scenes in my folder that, for some reason, don’t feel right, so they haven’t been posted. I’m sorry about that. I’ll give them a look over and try and find what I have to add in for them to click. I think one needs a change in setting, and the other maybe some more backstory.

So many promos! Now back to me :)

I thought I’d check in and ramble about myself and my work for a little bit to break up the other indie folk.

That said this cross-promotion thing is amazing. All the great writers that I’m showing off are also showing off Larkspur. In October I had 160+ downloads, 101 in November, and in December I have 425 so far, and it’s only the 4th! I’m sure I have a few more promos set up for December too, and I’m not-so-secretly hoping to break 1000.

I have most of the major scenes for Delphinium written and pretty polished, now I’m just trying to tie them all together coherently. Sometimes I explain something in a chapter only to find that I wrote something similar already, so that all has to be fixed and redone. Some of the chapters take place over a day and others might be several weeks and I need to summarize, or expand, and make it flow right. I’m feeling really good about this story though- I have fewer “this sucks, what the hell am I even doing” days than I used to have. The story itself, by the way, takes place over 4 months and almost a week. I am gradually scaling up the time for each book, Aconitella should take place over a year and a half, and a few of the vaguely plotted stories for after the Larkspur series may cover five to ten years. I am working with a lot of time, generations here, so going week by week might not be the best idea in the world.

The Wolf Within has been put aside so I can wrap up Delphinium, but it will be written alongside Aconitella. I want to try dealing with more than one world at once, outside of Scenes. And even with Scenes I tend to fall back into the realm I’m working on at the moment. I’ve not been able to stick to another realm long enough for a good coherent Scene in a while (sorry about that).

I do have a pretty finished opening page to The Wolf Within though, so I’ll go ahead and share that here! 🙂

The pups were coming out of the den. They were less than a moon old and had only opened their eyes a few days past, but the alpha-mother was letting them come to meet the rest of the pack. Their alpha-father stood at the opening of the den, tail wagging his entire body as he made himself wait for his mate and puppies to appear. It was their first litter.
The other two wolves of the pack stood further back, not part of the family and not wishing to intrude, though keeping away from new puppies had proved too difficult to overcome entirely.

Alpha-mother came out first and greeted her mate. An uncertain whining was heard from the den and she yipped, telling her little ones that it was safe. Alpha-father had had enough waiting and stuck his head into the den, sniffing and licking the bundles of fur. He grabbed one by the scruff and pulled him out, setting him down before covering him again in licks.

The other two siblings ran out then and all descended on their father, licking at the corners on his mouth and pressing to him, showing him deference and love.

“Come,” the alpha-mother said to the two sitting off to the side. She nudged one of the puppies, a solid black one, in their direction if her beckoning had not been enough. “You are pack too.”

The elder, a golden wolf with suspiciously blue eyes, looked to the younger white wolf before taking a step forward.

The black puppy moved to him, tail low but swishing, shy and trying not to show her fear. The golden wolf dipped his head and licked her in greeting, and she nuzzled him back.

“Smell different.” The pup sneezed and stood back to look at the other pack members, then back to his mother. “Wolf-not-wolf.”

“Man-wolf,” his father explained. “Pack.”

The golden wolf laid down to be less intimidating and all the pups decided it would be a grand idea to tackle him at once.

Finally the black pup went over to the white wolf and sniffed her curiously. She was different than the golden wolf still, and reminded her of her parents in how she sat.

“Alpha-not-wolf?” she asked.

Her father walked over and bent his head, exposing his neck. “Man-wolf queen. She is the alpha of all the alphas. Wolf and man-wolf.”

The queen nudged alpha-father to stand and snorted in annoyance. “I am still young, and a guest of your father’s. I am not here as his alpha.”

Hope everyone is having a great Christmas season! ❤

Indie Promos and other stuff

You may have noticed that I made a new category for Indie Promotions. I’ve recently begun using facebook a lot more than I ever have joining groups for writers, authors, and marketing help.

They’re wonderful! It’s a bunch of fans of the genre and art working together for the good of all. There’s a lot of cross-promotion and helping each other out. I had over 100 downloads last month and almost at 100 for November too  ❤

Mostly these promos revolve around mailing lists, but since my list is tiny (26 people, woo) I think it makes more sense to post here on my blog where I get more views, and also the posts are tweeted. (I think I’ll come up with something eventually where once a month I’ll gather the promos I did on the blog and send them to the newsletter too).

Double good news- this gets me on my blog more. So I think I’ll be upping the amount of other posts I put here because I don’t want it to just be swamped with promos.

In regards to other stuff- I do have a Scene finished that I was going to post, but it doesn’t feel right to me for some reason. I think I’m going to have to rewrite it. It involves a realm I’ve never really done anything in yet, so it’s new and wobbly. I do have another Scene that’s almost done so I think that’ll be up in the next few days as well.

And I am working on Delphinium. It failed as a NaNo project (I got really caught up in election stuff), so I won’t be able to wrap it up by December, but things are going well. I got another beta reader that liked Larkspur and is top notch with grammar, so I can’t wait for someone who knows that to be a help

Hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving and is having a great Advent!

 

 

Maps!

I’ve been working on The Noctuinad Wiki for a few days now. It’s coming along nicely, I’m getting a lot of the worldbuilding tangles sorted, and making *lots* of fun charts. I thought I’d share here and explain more about my world.

We know that Noctuina has 256 magical realms. The perimeters are rectangles that have no care for land, sea, or any man-made structure. You can cross a realm length-wise in a season and a thirteen days (104 days), and it’s half as tall as it is wide. Near the perimeters there can be a mixing of the magics- they are not hard borders by any means. A skilled user of cræfts will feel the difference.

Here is a chart I just finished for the wiki, detailing not only the borders, but all the names of the realms. Clandestina is near the middle (1 up and 1 to the right from the center). On the wiki clicking on a part of the map will open a tiddler with that realm, some information about it, and a larger version of that realm’s map (without details, yet, I’m slowly going through the realms and making quite large detailed maps about each one).

I also broke up the world into continents. I’ve been doing this in my head for a while, giving each section it’s own cultural theme, before getting into the specifics within each realm (and even further still). Today I also outlined and named the continents.

There are nine, color coded for easy viewing. I’ll describe them quickly, comparing them to our own cultures/continents. These are not set in stone, but more short-hand so I know what kind of cultures go where on the map.

Oinos – the islands of Oinos are all themed in a Greco-Roman fashion. Given how much Greek mythology I read and love it isn’t surprising that this is a place I go to when I think. ‘Oinos’ is the Latin word for One.

Twye – is a pilgrim-esque type place, an Early America after European settlers have come. ‘Twye’ is the Yola word for Two.

Sān – Asia. There are several realms in the large continent, and their individual cultures range from Chinese, Japanese, to Vietnamese, to a mix of those and others.
‘Sān’ is the Chinese, and Japanese, word for Three.

Arba’a – My Middle East/Egypt continent. Deserts, caravans, pyramids. I’ve loved Egyptian mythology for as long as I’ve loved Greek and I wanted a place to explore those types of cultures.
‘Arba’a’ is the Arabic word for Four.

Tallimat – I haven’t done much thinking here yet, but in general this is a continent that embodies far northern / Inuit / Alaskan culture. There are lots of mountains here and they are almost constantly covered in snow.
‘Tallimat’ is the Inuinnaqtun word for Five.

Hvnnali – Another take on early America, only before any Europeans showed up. I hope to explore my own variations of Native American and Central American cultures.
‘Hvnnali’ is the Choctaw word for Six.

Seidth – These islands are my Celtic/Irish lands. I feel they should be distinct from the rest of my ‘Europe’ because the magic will be far more intense in these lands. They’re also called The Magic Isles.
‘Seidth’ is the Old Breton word for Seven.

Khaisa – The second continent I chose when making the map. This is my Africa, with the lower half turning into an Indian culture as well. I think it’s my favorite continent because of how it’s shaped- like a (biological) heart.
‘Khaisa’ is (almost) the Nama word for Eight (it’s better written as ǁkhaisa. There’s a beautiful clicking noise at the start of the word- it’s a wonderful language).

Kilenc – And finally, Europe. I think this is the first continent I decided about in my head, given how the western part reminds me of Western Europe. The western parts are more late mediaeval/renaissance/Victorian with the east being early mediaeval and Germanic.
‘Kilenc’ is the Hungarian word for Nine.

Bonus!
Huge version of the map, no realms or names

The Noctuinad Wiki (help me pick a design)

I am working on an official wiki. There will be two versions, my personal version with *all* the information about Noctuina and a public one for you. The public one will be updated as new books, stories, and lore comes out of the woodwork and onto amazon and my blog.

Now this is being made with Tiddlywiki Classic and a variation of the tiddlypedia theme. I’ve played with the CSS a little to make it more into something I like (namely making all the fonts Times New Roman). Aside from that it still looks fairly like wikipedia, and I am wondering whether I want it to stay that plain. On one hand it is easier to read and we’re all used to how wikipedia looks, on the other hand I do love old paintings that I think bring the feel of Noctuina to you.

So you get to choose! Here’s the two versions I’m playing with right now- plain on the left, and my personal version on the right (you’ll notice a few of the tiddlers are different). I can either keep them visually separate, make the soon-to-be-online one look like the one on the right, or tweak it some more (mostly look for other pictures that might look good as a background).

Wiki comparison.jpg

Shipping

So.. shipping is serious business.

For the unaware, ‘shipping’ refers to (relation)shipping- the desire to see two (or more) characters in a romantic pairing. This can take the form of fanfiction, fan-art, screeching when it becomes canon, ignoring all evidence when it doesn’t turn out to be canon, and other varying levels of madness.

Typically for the purposes of announcing your fics/art as a certain ship there’s a couple-name that’s given to your chosen pair. In real life this was ‘Brangelina’ for instance. Dramione is the pairing of Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger. Sometimes it’s a bit more than just squishing the names together, ‘Harmony’ is Harry Potter and Hermione. Add in Luna Lovegood and it changes to ‘Lunar Harmony.’ Sometimes names just don’t go that well together and for Snape and Hermione we tend to just see SS/HG. Other times the ‘ships’ are given ‘proper names’ – like Sirius/Hermione being the S. S. Puppy Love.

… Yes, I ship Hermione with just about anyone not Ron.

But the most common are said squished together portmanteau names. And because I’m me, and I spend far too much time on this sort of thing, I began thinking about what my characters’ ship names would be and decided to declare some. So far I only have a few I like, and one isn’t canon (but who am I to judge after everyone I like Hermione with?).

Pierre/Elizabeth – Pierreth

Pierre/Mora – Morierre

Piers/Eglė – Epiers

Of course I have a lot of other characters and varying (canon and not-canon) pairings, but most of that would be spoilers and mean very little to you.

Happy Halloween everyone!