Showing posts with label Kindle Scout Winner. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kindle Scout Winner. Show all posts

Monday, May 29, 2017

Well, That's Alarming!


Our guest blogger is Christina Patchell (Chris), whom I met when our books were chosen as Kindle Scout winners.

Chris Patchell is the bestselling author of In the Dark and the Indie Reader Discovery Award winning novel Deadly Lies. A former tech worker turned full-time author, Chris Patchell pens gritty suspense novels set in the Pacific Northwest.


Chris is out with her newest book. Woohoo! And, I invited her on to share some of her research.

Chris, I'm going to sit back and take notes.

Sweet Dreams – Fun Facts about Security Systems

“Protect your home with the best home security system.” That’s what one popular home security system provider claims. And the truth is that we all want to keep our families secure. How many of us have spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars installing home security systems and hundreds more on monitoring contracts every year? Once the systems are safely installed in our homes, many of us do something else that we think will act as a deterrent. We plant a sign in the middle of our flower beds outside of our houses that proudly lists the name of the security company whose equipment protects our homes, in the hopes that if a potential thief rolls down our street in the middle of the night, seeing the sign posted out front will compel them to drive on by. But is that true?

I was talking to a friend of mine about the kinds
of things I learned
while researching my latest book, Dark Harvest, and this little fun fact was one of those things that stuck in my mind long afterwards. When something goes bump in the night, the first thing I do is open my eyes and glance across the alarm to the alarm panel wondering if in my sleepy stupor, I actually managed to arm it. Through the dark I see the red light shining like a beacon, and know that it the system is armed. A deep sense of security wraps around me like a warm blanket, and I drift off to sleep once more.

But what if that little sign or sticker adhered to a window isn’t the deterrent you think it is? What if they know what I learned while I was doing my research, that there is a way to block an alarm signal from broadcasting to the monitoring station?

We’ve all heard the claim that you can find anything on the internet, right? Well, if you know where to look, you can find the frequency certain security companies use to broadcast their alerts. So, if a technologically savvy thief knows what to do, they can actually jam the frequency by blasting “white noise” to that signal, thereby preventing the alarm system from sending the alarm.

‘How is this even possible?’ you ask. Easier than you might think. There are devices, like a H.A.M. radio, to tune to the right frequency and blast a signal. A software-defined radio can also be configured onto a laptop and run from there. In essence, a software-defined radio behaves in much the same way the hardware version does, by scanning a range of radio bandwidth to detect activity on specific frequencies. Once the wireless alarm activity is found, it can be exploited by overpowering or jamming the signal issued by the alarm. Some alarms come with anti-jamming protection that can be circumvented by jamming the signal for short bursts (say 20 seconds) then turned off for a second or two, before repeating the process.

This isn’t as easy or cheap as I’m making this sound. There is a fair bit of technical know-how required to setup the system and jam a signal. Setting up a software-defined radio can cost anywhere between $1,000 and $4,000. Since some of these vulnerabilities have been exposed, companies have been hard at work putting solutions in place to stop hackers.

So, how do I keep my family safe? First, don’t make it easier for thieves by posting the sign. Let the blasting alarm be deterrent enough if they target your house in the middle of the night. Or if you really like the idea of posting a sign as a deterrent, post another alarm company’s sign in your yard and keep the bad guys guessing.

In Dark Harvest, Henry Cahill, a computer hacker with a Robin Hood complex, uses a similar technique to break into a business and search for information that will help him solve a crime. Things don’t work out for Henry quite the way he expects, but hey, that’s the kind of wrinkle that makes fiction fun.

If the ins and outs of how things works intrigues you like it does me, here are a few links if you’d like to do some reading of your own:

Hacking home alarms

Hacking alarm systems

Hacking alarm systems

Fiona-
In your writing, reading, and your everyday life, knowing the truth can help you stay one step ahead.

I hope you buy and enjoy Chris's newest book!
Let us know what you think!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Hello, RITA - Romance Writers of America's Prestigious Prize

Romance, ah...

Do you read it? Do you write it? 

A Rita judge, Liz O'Connor, who writes as LG O'Connor will be talking with us about her experience as a RITA judge.

Fiona - 
Liz can you tell us a little about you and your writing? How long you've been at this your genre etc...

Liz -
Thanks for asking...I'm fairly new to publishing. I spent most of my career as a corporate strategy and marketing professional. However, I've been an avid reader my whole life. When the recession hit in 2009, I left an executive role to pursue other opportunities. During the six months been that job and my next, I started writing the first book in my urban fantasy / paranormal romance series. I finished the first draft in 2012, and Penguin requested it during a pitch conference. They ultimately turned it down, but after another rewrite and some editing, it was accepted in 2013 for a spring 2014 launch through She Writes Press. Since then, I've published 4 books
AMAZON
in that series (2 more to go!), and then started a new contemporary romance series about three women in the same family and their second chance at love. Caught Up in Raine just won the 2017 Bronze IPPY Award in Romance, and Shelter My Heart was selected by Kindle Press for publication May 16th. It's been an interesting and fantastic road so far!

Fiona - 
Can you tell us what the RITA is and how you got involved as a judge?

Liz - 
One of the first organizations that I joined was the Romance
AMAZON
Writers of America (RWA). It's a wonderful organization (and the largest) for writers in the romance genres. The RWA runs peer-based romance awards annually. There are many local chapter contests, as well as the big national contests. 


The RITA and the Golden Heart are the two large national RWA contests. The RITA is like the Academy Award of Romance books for published authors, while the Golden Heart is the same for unpublished authors. Before I was a published author, I entered Caught Up in Raine, and missed finalist by 1 point. One of my dear author friends, Carla Susan Smith, prodded me to enter CUIR in this year's RITA. So I did. One of the requirements as an entrant is that you must participate as a judge in the first round in a non-conflicting genre.


Fiona - 
How much time did that take? And did they provide you a metric by which to judge? 


Liz -
Every judge receives a minimum of 5 books to judge. As promised, they were in genres other than the one that I submitted for. Judges are not allowed to disclose the names of the books they receive or judge. I'm a pretty fast reader, but even so, it took me about four weeks to read all the books and judge accordingly. 


The books are judged on a 10-point scale with fractional points allowed in the scoring, ex: 9.6. They also must satisfy three criteria: 

  • romance as a central theme 
  • happy ever after or happy for now ending
  • they must fit the genre for which they submitted. 
It was a fascinating process to read books not normally part of my genre selection list. For instance, I'm not a big historical romance reader, but one of my books fell into that sub-genre. I really enjoyed it. Although I can't tell you what books I judged, one of them made it to the finals and into the next round of judging.

The winners are announced at the RWA National Conference this July in Orlando, FL. I'll be there, and looking forward to it!


Fiona - 
Even though you were reading outside of your sub-genre what are some take away lessons learned, now that you read with a judges hat on, that you will apply to your own writing?

Liz -
I think the thing that struck me the most (and disappointed me a little) was that for some of the books - I could not suspend my disbelief enough. Too much triteness in the plot trope. I write smart, sexy romance, and I need a little more "something-something" with my romance novels (which is why I love your books so much, Fiona!) - good twists and turns that keep me interested. The plain old boy-meets-girl (or boy)-loses g/b-reunited with g/b-HEA bores me a little if there's nothing else going on. So for me, I'll continue to strive for genuine emotion, a little raw, but deeply soulful.

Fiona - 

Adding - With some plot twists to keep them coming back
We all love that pull to go back for more.

And thank you for your kind words.

Liz - 
Yes! I strive to leave them with a book hangover!
LOL


Fiona -
So readers should look for RITA winners because they are well vetted, and writers could probably gain a lot by reading the winners to see what others find to be quality romance.
What would you like to add that I haven't asked you about?

Liz - 
Here is my take on the RITAs. We all strive to be chosen by our peers. But as with everything it is subjective to the judges and who you happen to draw to judge your book. For instance, when I saw my Golden Heart scores, I had everything from a perfect 50 points to an average score, with several in between - with only a 1 point miss for finalist. So, yes, the books are vetted by your peers, but you are also pulling from a pool that may not read your genre, so there is also bias built in that cannot be controlled. 


As an example, the book my favorite book of the 5 I judged didn't make it to finalist, yet another that I judged lower, did. So, yes, the books are all quality, but it's possible that good / better books did not place. So, I wouldn't use the winner's circle as the only judge of quality, but it certainly helps!

Fiona - 
How does one get involved with the contest?

Liz -
To get involved, the RITAs open usually in December / January, and get flooded with applicants within the first 2-4 days. When they reach a set limit, they stop accepting applicants due to volume.
So, on the RWA website. You need to be a member to submit.


For published authors, it is both the author and editor.
It's for both traditional and Indie published books.

Fiona -
Liz is a recent Kindle Scout winner with her book Shelter my Heart.
AMAZON

Devon, an ailing, young CEO-in-training due to inherit his dead father’s conglomerate saves the day for Jenny, an engaged young woman on her way home to see her family. To repay his kindness, she agrees to be his date for his family’s annual society gala and convince the board that he’s healthy and going to marry. Two weeks are all Devon needs, and two weeks are all Jenny can give—until the stakes rise, forcing Jenny to answer the question: How far is she willing to go to save Devon’s life? Shelter My Heart is the second novel in the Caught Up in Love series which centers around three New Jersey women: romance writer, Jillian Grant, her sister, Katherine “Kitty” McNally Lynch, and Kitty’s daughter, Jenny Lynch. They are all part of a family plagued by loss. Each woman harbors her own guilty secret and must journey through her personal pain to find redemption and ultimately surrender her heart for a second chance to get caught up in love.

BIO: LG O’Connor is a corporate marketing exec by day who takes her author cape out at night. An avid reader, she loves books with memorable characters that make her heart sing. She’s the author of the urban fantasy / paranormal romance series, The Angelorum Twelve Chronicles, and Caught Up in RAINE, her contemporary romantic women’s fiction debut. A native ‘Jersey Girl,’ she’s always in search of the perfect cup of coffee and fine Italian leather. Advice she lives by: Enjoy every day. Go barefoot.


Amen to the barefoot!
Now everyone, go grab a good book and enjoy your read.

Cheers, 
Fiona

Sunday, October 30, 2016

A Blind Date with Freddie Krueger and the Art of Thrill Writing with Chris Patchell

Welcome!

Grab a cup of something warm and let's settle in for a chat with my fellow Kindle Scout winning author, Chris Patchell.

Chris, please tell us about your background and how that brought you to writing novels.

Chris - 
I was a shy kid who didn't make friends easily. We lived way out in the country, so there were no kids nearby. I would escape into my own head for hours at a time, making up stories. Imagining I was somewhere else -- a flight attendant up in the blue sky flying to exotic places. I'd imagine shapes in the clouds. I'd act out scenes with my barbies. In the third grade, I was given my first creative writing assignment and discovered the magic of writing--of creating a new world, all of your own making.

It was awesome.

Better than friends.

I wrote on and off through high school and my early twenties and then quit. I got busy building a career in tech, and a family. 


I hit a point in my career where I was feeling burned out. My girls were little, and I remember thinking that there was no part of my life that was mine anymore. I needed a little piece of myself back. I thought about what I used to like to do, and I remembered that I used to love to write. But being type A, I didn't just sit down and open up a word processor. I researched some writing courses I could take. Found one through the University of Washington. Went to the information session. Loved what I heard and STILL, it took me a year to sign up.

My husband says to me, "did you ever sign up for that course?" Um... No...

"Why not?"

"I'd never have time to write. You know, with the job, the kids..."

He fixed me with this hard stare. "Stop making excuses. Just do it."

So I did. That was 10 years ago, and I've been writing ever since.

My analytical mind has served me well working in the tech industry. I set my first book in a tech company, and used some of my experience as a woman working in tech in building the book's main character, Jill. Little bits of tech make it into my plots.

I've managed a lot of projects from small mobile apps, to large scale, complex deployments. This experience--the ability to organize and deploy multiple projects simultaneously translates well into devising complex plots. I love weaving multiple story lines together into big bang endings.

I can remember a lot of detailed dependencies off the top of my head, which means when I make plot changes, I can go back and change all of the places in previous scenes where the info becomes relevant. It's handy.

I like the high-stakes and fast paced plot lines in suspense novels where characters struggle against external obstacles to get what they want. I also like creating their internal obstacles--the emotional baggage they carry with them that limit their actions. Fear. Anger. Rage.

The minute I started writing my first thriller, I was hooked.

I also like creating strong female characters. Jill Shannon, the anti-hero in my first book is a great example. She's smart, fierce, and a little ruthless. Not what you'd expect lurking underneath her pretty face.

Ha!

Fiona - 
What do you think makes a good thriller - what components do you try to include? What are you consciously aware of as you're putting your plot together?

Chris -
It has to be high stakes. Typically life and death, or loss of freedom. Both figure prominently into my plot lines. There also has to be a personal stake in the story. What motivates your hero to conquer the obstacles in the story and risk it all? Single mother, Marissa Rooney, will stop at nothing to find her missing daughter. Then there is the element of time (pacing). Everyone knows that the first 48 hours are critical in a missing person's case, but beyond that, what provides a ticking clock--the tension that moves your characters (and your readers) through the story? The kidnapped girl in In the Dark is a type 1 diabetic. She's got her insulin pen with her, but it's not ideal (she needs 2 types of insulin and only has one) and her supply is limited. When it runs out, she dies.

AMAZON LINK
It's a compelling ticking clock. It's selection wasn't random. My husband is a type 1 diabetic, so I know a little bit about what happens (high blood sugars, low blood sugars, etc.).

If your hero has a good reason to care, your readers will too.

Fiona - 
Let's talk about that pacing. I find books that are written with the gas pedal being pushed down the whole time wears me out. I appreciate a few scenes with introspection or a little more quiet so there are highs and lows. Is that something you include in your pacing or is it go go go?

Chris - 
Like you said, it can't be go go go all the time. It gets boring. It's like the never-ending car chase scene.

There are moments when your characters are alone and they're struggling with their inner demons. The action isn't high, but the emotional tension is. I also like to inject a little humor where I can into the story.

That was probably more true of my first book than my second.

You also need to let your hero win every once in a while to keep people invested. There was this t.v. show years ago, about an Irish family. Modern. T
he Black Donnelys. But everything went wrong for this family. It went from bad to worse. I watched 2 - 3 episodes then quit. It was too depressing. They took it off the air before the season finished.

Fiona- 
Another way that you can hold the reader's attention is with complex plotting. Beyond the pantser v plotter question, how do you develop the ideas for your plots and how do you refine so it's the Three Little Bears not too twisty not too straight?

Chris - 
Yes, I'm a big fan of complex plotting. I'm definitely a plotter. I start with the seed of a story. An idea. I spend some time nodding on the idea, growing it, to see if it's big enough to support a plot. Then I write a summary 3-Act Plot. This is maybe 5 - 10 pages long. Then I start breaking it into scenes--more of a formal outline. I usually start writing. Evolve the outline as I go. Major plot twists are built into the idea of the story. Part of how do you make it interesting or surprising. For instance, In the Dark has a big reveal in the prologue. Sometimes though, you delay a reveal to build tension, or a new idea comes to you during the writing phase that makes a reveal or twist better.

Good twists are part of my original story design. They're what makes the story interesting. So, while I do outline, I use my outline as a guideline and not a blueprint, so if my characters take me in different directions (deviate off the path), I go with it. If it works, I keep it, if it doesn't, I dump it and move on.

Each of my characters have their own story lines, even the secondary characters. While they play a role in the major plot, their stories weave into the whole making it richer.

Fiona - 
Go back to the original three parts. What does that breakdown look like?

Chris - 

The first act sketches out the main character. Who are they? Why are they here? The inciting incident that puts the characters on the path. My first act usually ends with the characters gaining momentum, they reach the point of no return on their journey, which propels them deeper into the story.

The second act is the bulk of the story. The obstacles they face, setbacks in the plot. Pushing against the obstacles to learn more about the case, battle with their own demons. You know. At the end of the second act, they acquire knowledge that moves them into the third act. In In the Dark, the investigator learns the identity of the kidnapper. The climax of the story. The showdown. Do they find the missing girl? Can they save her? Slay the demon? In a romance it's usually about whether the relationship survives the crisis and how.

The end of Act 3 is the resolution. I usually tie the ends of my acts with a big reveal or twist; a moment in the action that propels you into the next phase. You up the stakes.

Fiona - 
Do you apply special choices of words or sentence structures to encourage people to read in a section in a particular way? For example how would you change between the physical action high stakes pages v. the emotion angst introspection pages to change the rhythm?

Chris - 
Sentence structure is obvious. Shorter, choppier sentences for action scenes. Longer, more complex sentences for more introspective parts. Atmosphere plays a role too; setting the scene. Because I set stories in the Northwest, I use a lot of physical scene setting (barriers like mountains and mudslides, raining, flooding, typical things we experience in Northwest winters). Word choices are important--how you describe something reflects the mood of the character. Marissa Rooney has made a lot of mistakes with men. When she thinks about these mistakes, her inner critic calls her a loser. The voice of her inner critic is probably her mother's, and she struggles against her poor self-esteem the whole book. Only at the end does she accept her mistakes and move past them. Get stronger. Those emotional moments where she's waging her own inner battle use words that reflect what her inner critic (and by extension herself) believes.

The emotional stuff is harder for me to write.

Takes longer. I have to dig pretty deep to get it out.

Fiona -
For me sex is hardest to write -- I can write emotion all day long.

Chris - 
I hear ya!

When I'm writing a sex scene, I have to block out the idea that anyone else will ever read it. If I didn't, I would never be able to write one.

Fiona - 
Amen to that one -- especially the idea of one of my kids reading it! Ha!

Chris - 
I'm in denial about my kids reading my stuff. I started to write again about the time my oldest daughter was in kindergarten. That's when I instituted the rule, you never read mommy's stuff. Eventually though, they will. Luckily we're still years away from that.

Fiona - 
Let's talk about staying motivated.

Chris -
I think the hardest thing for me is finding ways to stay motivated during the edit cycle. It always feels endless to me. Ripping a scene apart. Rewriting it, until you get it right, or as close to right as you can while not over-obsessing to the point you can never let it go. So, one of the things that helps motivate me is getting feedback from my writing group, or other sources that I trust. When I'm struggling with a scene and I think it's a piece of crap, getting feedback helps identify what's working, what's not, and provides an opportunity to brainstorm how to fix what's there. Writing is solitary. Building a community of support will help motivate you when the going gets tough.

Tracking what you do also keeps you motivated. Tracking word count in the initial draft, watching your manuscript grow. And then keeping track of where you are in the edit cycle. While it may feel like slow going, just being able to see progress helps. Remembering that there is an end in sight. I know there's a point during the edit cycle where I want to burn the manuscript, or kill myself. Or both.

Having finished several books, I know that this is part of my process. I need to keep pushing to get past it. Eventually I will and the book will be finished and I can write something else.

The promise of writing something new is the carrot at the end of the string fore me.

Fiona - 
It's time! We want a good scar story, please.

Chris - 
My favorite scar story...

Well, I've got a three-inch scar at the base of my throat. One of my coworkers asked me how I got it and this is what I said...

I was working in Vancouver, BC, in an area of the city called Yaletown. It was late. Winter. Raining. I was meeting some of my friends downtown and stopped at a bank machine to pick up some funds. Vancouver is an interesting city--parts of it are upscale, pretty. Safe. But step one or two blocks out of the "zone" and it can get a little sketchy. So there I was at the bank machine, paying no attention to what was going on around me when a man approached from behind. I felt the cold chill of metal against my throat and..."

"Whoa," he says. "Is that what really happened?"

"Uh, no. But it makes a better story."

The real truth was that I had surgery to remove a cyst. Apparently the surgeon was either drunk, or used popsicle sticks. Maybe both. 

Afterwards, I had a drainage tube and a long row of staples closing the wound. I looked like I'd gone on a blind date with Freddie Krueger. I should have been horrified when I looked in the mirror. Instead, I burst out laughing. That was 20 years ago.

Fiona - 
Ha! You got me -- I totally thought you were a crime victim. Thanks so much for coming and hanging out!


Readers, you can stay in touch with Chris:
Website - http://www.chrispatchell.com
Facebook
Twitter - @chris_patchell


I hope this was helpful. As always, a big thank you ThrillWriters and readers for stopping by. Thank you, too, for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.


Chat Conversation End

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Spend a Year in Cupid's Coffeeshop: Info for writers about serial publishing.

Fellow Kindle Scout winning author, Courtney Hunt, joins us ThrillWriters and ThrillReaders to talk about her year-long writing project, Cupid's Coffeeshop.

Fiona -
Welcome Courtney. Can you set the stage by telling us a little bit about your writing and your project?

Courtney - 
I prefer to write in the contemporary romance genre, though I'd like to eventually branch into women's fiction. I also have some paranormal and sci-fi ideas rattling around that I hope to get to before 2050.


As to how I became a writer, I've always enjoyed writing down the stories I created. I pursued traditional publishing for about 10 years before giving up after the birth of my son. In my day-job I'm an attorney for the federal government. When we furloughed in October 2013, I suddenly had the life I'd always dreamed about. My son was in school and my husband at work. I wrote 54k words in 17 days. I self-published my first novel in July 2015.

Fiona - 

You are working on what I would call an ambitious if not daunting adventure. Can you explain how you got this idea? And tell truth, was this a dare accepted over too many rum and Cokes?

Courtney - 
COURTNEY HUNT - author page
No, but there was some cough syrup with codeine involved. Like many writers, I often write in coffee shops and thought that a coffee shop would be a great "meet cute" place for a hero and heroine. But, I couldn't settle on one hero and heroine. Finally, while I was sick with bronchitis (that's where the cough syrup with codeine comes in) and lying in bed, I jotted down a list of 10 story ideas. From there, I got the idea to do one per month throughout 2016. Still on the cough syrup, I came up with the three core characters who own the coffee shop and the Cupid's Coffeeshop series was born.

Fiona -

Would you take us through your production process? Writing a first draft is simply a step on the path to a reader's hands.

Courtney -
When I structured the Cupid's Coffeeshop series, I based it more on episodic television writing than a traditional romance series. So, I had the three main characters, who each get their own "very special episode" in their own books. And then, from there, I branched out to the other stories.

I have a four stage process--Capture, Development, Drafting, and Production. I use Evernote to capture all my story ideas. I usually tend to think in series, probably because as a life-long romance reader, I enjoy reading romance series. Once I decide to develop an idea, I do some basic research and character work to build an outline. I have to limit myself on the character work because I'd spend months on it if I let myself. I usually work on it for about a week and have a few favorite character exercises, like Holly Lisle's the Shadow Room and the intimacy questions. Once I have an outline or a scene list, I draft from beginning to end. I usually write 2-5k words a day on my writing days. Once a first draft is done, I consider the book in production. It goes to my developmental editor, my copy-editor, my formatter, my cover designer, and it's up on Amazon.

Fiona - 
If someone else were to think this was an awesome idea, first they should download all of your books and see what you did and how with the stories, but second could you share some of your insights? What worked? What didn't? How would you change things if you were to do this again? And would you consider doing this again? Ha! I piled on this time.

Courtney -
First, yes, I absolutely would consider doing this again. In fact, I have ideas for two different year-long series that I'm seriously considering pursuing in the future. 


Having said that, yes, there are some things I'd do differently. I would have all the stories written before I published the first one: 

  • I wouldn't be writing under so much pressure.
  • I'd have had the same editors for the entire series. My copy-editor abruptly closed up shop over the summer which left me scrambling to find another. 
  • I would make them longer so I could charge $2.99 per book. Right now, I have them at about 50 pages and 99 cents. The sales volume has been very good but the revenue is lower than what I'd prefer.


As to what worked, I had all the covers designed at one time so they are well-branded and look great together. I also released a boxed set of the first four which I had made into an audiobook that has sold really well.





I also think setting up a core story, with the three main characters that appear in each book, helped a great deal with writing it. It always comes back to the three owners. And, while two of the owners have already found their happily-ever-afters, the last one doesn't until the final book. Readers have been clamoring to know what happens to Patrick.

I also think I've built up a core of really loyal readers who love this series and that's been great too. So, overall, it's been great to get a lot of titles up on Amazon quickly (I've been published just over a year and have 12 titles for sale and 3 for pre-order).

Fiona -
You brought up the idea of branding through your cover art. Who is your audience, and how did you develop your branding to appeal to them?

Courtney - 
The books are small-town contemporary romance. I was really going for a Gilmore Girls vibe with the books. However, writing such a long series, I've been able to have an older couple (Cherry Blossom Cappuccino features a couple in their 70s) as well as a high school couple (in November's Thanksgiving Dream). I've also had some college-aged heroes and heroines. So, even within the small town vibe, I've had young adult, new adult, and--what do we call older adults? Hen lit?-- opportunities. The books also vary in their heat levels from sweet to mainstream steamy. So, by varying the ages and the heat level, I've attracted a wide swath of contemporary romance readers.

As for the branding part, I've used the same cover designer for all my books (Kim Killion) and she also designed my Cupid's Coffeeshop logo. I've used Fivver.com to get some great promotional photos to use.

Fiona - 
Let's talk about the big author time suck, marketing. You have a great story to tell, you've wrapped it up in a pretty package, and now you need to get it out into the world. Can you take us through your strategy?

Courtney - 
Marketing has been a challenge for this series because many of the popular sites, like Bookbub, don't advertise novellas. I spent a good amount of December setting up promos for the first book, Java Frost. 


To celebrate each new release, I've put the prior month's book up for free for 5 days. I have a newsletter and send that out each month. I'm also just starting to use Facebook ads after Mark Dawson's class. 

I think having each book up for pre-order for 90 days helps too. I had just 29 pre-orders of the first one and the more recent ones are in the 150 range. So, that's been better. I have a review crew too that has helped spread the word. But, like with all author promos, it's never enough, and I have to limit it or I'll never get new words on the page.

Fiona - 
What do you wish I had asked you but didn't know enough to ask?

Courtney -
How difficult it is to change course with a series like this. For example, I realized in the spring that 99 cents was just too low to be very profitable. But I had 8 more months, and I didn't want to triple the price because I felt I'd already set reader expectations. 


Also, when I got sick in April and got behind on my writing schedule, I'd spend the next few months frantically working to catch up. When I do this again, I'll have all 12 books done before I start publishing. 

But for the next few series, I think I'll stick to the trilogies and quartet model for a bit.

Fiona - 
As always, ThrillWriting would love to hear about your favorite scar.

Courtney - 
My c-section scar because it gave me my beautiful son.

Fiona -  
You can stay in touch with Courtney here:
twitter at @courtneyhunt71 
Website

Facebook

Courtney's current new-release is Apple Cider:

The boxed set of the first one is here: Cupid's Coffeeshop boxed set






And here is Courtney's Kindle Scout winner! Lost Art of Second 

Chances



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