Back from the Abyss

Well, friends, National Novel Writing Month is drawing to a close …

How did I do?

Not so great. In fact, I almost considered giving up halfway through. But a wonderful friend told me, “Only losers give up, and you are not a loser.” So with her encouragement, I adjusted my goal to simply write every day and build a good habit to carry into next month and the next and so on. And that, I’m glad to say, I managed to successfully accomplish.

But that’s not the only reason I’ve come out of social media hibernation.

After showering you all with several teasing hints, today – finally – marks the release of my holiday short story collection! Behold, I give you …

solstic02

Isn’t it glorious? Here’s what it’s about:

Ever wondered how your favorite fantasy characters celebrate the holidays?

In this special two-story collection, you’ll journey to Myrillia to find out!

Set during the events of Fire Blessed, the second volume of the Blessings of Myrillia series, readers will catch an unseen glimpse into the lives of two popular couples.

Marius and Renelle’s complicated relationship makes their everyday lives tricky, but when they’re expected to celebrate their first Solstice together, things turn out a little differently than they expected.

Meanwhile, Kisara is experiencing her first Solstice among the Transeatur and discovers a major difference in how her race and theirs celebrate the holidays. Her resulting preparations are a disaster-filled adventure that ends with a surprising – and heartwarming – gift exchange.

Cute, huh? I bet you want to know how to get your own copy, am I right? Well, you can pick up a copy for just 99 cents at Amazon!

Or, if you subscribe to my newsletter, you can get a copy absolutely free. It’s my way of saying ‘Thank you!’ to all the wonderful people supporting me. Don’t worry, I don’t spam my newsletters – in fact, I sent my last one back in June. You can sign up here or on my Facebook page.

Happy book birthday to me!

Happy book birthday to me!

Hooray!!! Fire Blessed has turned one … and the wait is finally over: Ice Blessed is now available for you wonderful folks to discover!

The pages are still a little wonky on Amazon (the eBook and the paperback haven’t linked yet, and the paperback doesn’t have the correct ‘buy now’ button) but here are some easy to follow clicks so you can snag your copy today.

I hope all of you love this new book as much as I loved writing it. There are dozens of scenes that I simply adored, but all of them are spoiler heavy. :/

So I’ll just leave you with this one last teaser; this one last glimpse of the romance that a few of my beta readers adored. 😀

iceexcerpt01

 

Last day for your free copy of UnBlessed!

Today marks the final day of my sale for UnBlessed, the first book in my Blessings of Myrillia series: if you haven’t gotten your free kindle copy from Amazon, you might want to grab it before the price jumps back to $2.99.

After all, the third book is coming out in – get this – two weeks!

I’m a little excited, if you couldn’t tell. 😀

So yes, grab that first book while it doesn’t cost anything. Maybe check back next week for some deals on Fire Blessed … and definitely take a minute to read this spoiler-free excerpt from UnBlessed. This excerpt explains what, exactly, a Blessing is … and might possibly hint at the central character of book three. 😉

It was Lucien’s turn. Kisara watched as he walked to the Fire Shrine, noting how stiffly he moved. He’s still worried, she thought to herself, and sent a brief prayer that he would be Blessed by one of the first Elements.

Yet again, Fire found another candidate unworthy, and Lucien took a deep breath before continuing on to the Water Shrine. However, when he thrust his hands into the basin of water, there was a brilliant white light—even brighter than the others before it. After it cleared, Lucien stood in a white circle. His tunic turned a pale, shimmering blue, his hair a silvery white. Kisara clapped her hands in joy for her friend and gasped when he turned to grin at her. Unda had favored Lucien strongly; indeed, with his eyes turning the pale blue of snow shadows, it was obvious to see the extent of his Blessing. Lucien was an Ice Blessed! The ring of white surrounding him was frost, Kisara realized, and as she looked closer, she noticed the waterfall had frozen solid.

Sparkly UnBlessed

Twenty-three days and counting.

Twenty-three days and counting.

Can you believe it’s almost May already? I certainly can’t!

That isn’t a complaint by any means. I’m incredibly thrilled that May is almost here, because that means the release of Ice Blessed is almost here too!

My wonderful newsletter subscribers should have gotten an extra special issue on April 20th with an exclusive sneak peek at the new novel. If you haven’t already, do make sure to subscribe on the right (or on my Facebook page) and I’ll be sure to send you the latest letter with the first chapter excerpt. I planned to share the first chapter here as well, then I realized: there are a few potential spoilers in that first chapter for those who haven’t read UnBlessed or Fire Blessed. Oh, you can read the entire book out of context and probably be able to follow along, but you won’t get the same punch in the gut at the epic reveals throughout the book. That’s why I’m running my sale on the first two books before the newest volume launches.

If you want to catch up on the series free of charge, be sure to check Amazon on May 2 through May 6 to get a free kindle copy of UnBlessed, and May 9 through May 13 for Fire Blessed. This is a great time to start or share the series (I mean, come on: free eBooks) and you don’t even have to own a kindle to read them. There is a free kindle app for most smartphones, tablets, and even PC. I’d love to offer free paperbacks for the traditional folks, but I haven’t found a free source of ink and paper. (That said, those traditional folks should really sign up for my newsletter … there may or may not be a special coupon code in the next issue.)

One other exciting piece of news I wanted to share … UnBlessed now has 25 reviews on Amazon! This is an amazing milestone, guys. Reviews sell books – and I’ve been incredibly fortunate in the number of positive reviews I’ve received. I’ve already done my victory dance … now to wait for 50. 😀

By the way, I can’t stress the importance of reviews enough, especially for unknown authors like myself. If you’ve read my books, do please take a moment to write a short review: even if you didn’t like it. Granted, don’t be mean! But take a second to mention what worked for you or what didn’t … and by golly, if you did enjoy my stories let other readers know! Even a simple “I liked it, easy to read and interesting.” is better than nothing. This is one situation where no news (or reviews) is bad news. 😛

Do you like preorders?

Do you like preorders?

If so, good news for you!

Amazon now has a preorder page for Ice Blessed! Granted, it’s only for the kindle version … but the kindle version is A: much cheaper than print and B: doesn’t require you to wait for shipping. Meaning you can read the kindle copy on release day – no further wait needed!

“Release day? What release day?” you ask.

Oh, did I forget to share that little piece of info? 😉

Ladies and gentlemen, the official release day for Ice Blessed (assuming nothing wacky happens between now and then) is set for May 20, 2016.

For those keeping track, this day has a slightly special significance. You see, I released Fire Blessed on May 20, 2015. I would like to point out that I’ve stuck to my book-release-a-year goal … so far. I’m torn between trying to increase my quota or stick to what I know is possible. Ice Blessed had a few sticky spots where my productivity went down … I’m worried book four might be even worse. 😦

However, I’m not dwelling on the future just yet. Not when I have a thrilling new addition to the series still to be shared with you! Which brings me to a question for those who’ve read the other books in the series (and for those of you who haven’t, actually.)

First, here’s the synopsis (aka, cover pitch) for Ice Blessed:

In the aftermath of the first battle between Melior and Transeatur in recent history, both races attempt to regroup and prepare for the next phase of war. However, Lucien Glacies struggles to adjust more than most, fighting a conflict both within and without.

Lucien’s dream of a perfect future shattered when he realized his position in society — the very foundation of his life — was built on treachery and deceit. Confronted with the truth, Lucien must embrace the mistakes of his past … and accept the new allies who welcome him to their world.

However, the corrupt power behind the Melior’s false society is hunting Lucien’s new allies and his loved ones. If the threat isn’t stopped, Lucien risks the loss of his entire world—again.

My question, should you choose to answer, is whether that teaser captures your attention.

Does it make you want to read the book? Are you at least interested enough to read the first few pages?

Ice Blessed Cover Reveal

Ice Blessed Cover Reveal

On Wednesday, my newsletter subscribers received a sneak-peek of the as-yet-unreleased cover image … as well as advance notice of a few exciting dates to look forward to in the near future.

Thanks to a momentary lapse in common sense when creating a Facebook event this evening, I’ve decided to share at least some of that information today, instead of Monday. To be fair, I’ve been holding onto this for months now, so I’ve lasted a lot longer than I thought I would.

Behold! The glorious cover of my third novel!

icecoverwebsite

Honestly, I think this is my favorite cover to date – and not just because it happens to be my favorite color. There are layers here, layers that one might not appreciate until reading the book. I could point them out … but maybe I’ll wait until someone else comments. I wouldn’t want to spoil anything for you. 😉

Now, you might wonder what sort of event would cause me to accidentally reveal a bookcover. The answer is simple:

I have an official author signing event scheduled on May 28th.

An event held in a bookstore.

This is my first bookstore appearance, guys!!! I’m so incredibly excited and happy and hopeful … which is why I created a Facebook event (and used the cover image wallpaper as the event photo, much to my chagrin). Folks can sign up and share the event as much as they wish.

I’m well aware that I’m a relatively unknown author and that I shouldn’t expect a huge turnout. That doesn’t mean I’m going to listen to my common sense. At the very least I should have a few coworkers show up. Not to mention my husband and a few friends. I won’t be alone … but boy, it would be epic to have over a dozen people show up.

If you or someone you know lives near Austin, Texas, then mark May 28th on your calendars. Hop over to Facebook and check out the event, and keep an eye on the blog for further updates. I already know that I’ll have goodies available (like my series-themed bookmarks) as well as a limited stock of printed books – but if anyone brings their own copies of the books I’ll gladly sign them!

Series bookmarks? Yes. They look like this:

unblessedfront2x6_bookmark

I’m only showing the first one. I guess you’ll need to tune in next week to see the rest … 😀

 

Winter is coming to Myrillia … in more ways than one.

The very astute reader might remember that the final events of Fire Blessed took place in autumn. So yes, naturally the seasons are going to change as events progress.

However, a certain Ice Blessed individual is going to have his moment in the spotlight as well. Gee, I wonder if you can guess the as-yet unannounced title of my third book?

My newsletter subscribers received an exclusive first-look at book three’s official title in my February issue. Now, I present to the rest of the world:

icetwittercard

*cue trumpets and confetti*

I have wanted to announce this title for ages, but held back until the release date crept a little closer. There’s nothing more frustrating (to me, anyway) than getting a title and then waiting forever for the book to come out. Especially when said title allows your brain to run amok with theories and characters and ideas. At least, my brain went nuts the minute I thought of the title … which, actually, was halfway through writing Fire Blessed.

I mean, I can’t give Marius a book and leave poor Lucien out in the cold … heh.

Okay, enough with the cheesy puns. Here’s the nitty gritty regarding where I’m at in the release schedule:

  • The rough draft is completed and edits are in progress.
  • Four alpha readers have already gone through the manuscript and provided feedback.
  • The cover is finished – no, you can’t see it yet. Subscribe to my newsletter if you’re impatient. 😀
  • I don’t have an exact date yet, but it will be available by the end of May. Even better? You should have an exact date by the end of April!

Stay tuned for the many, many goodies I have in store! In the meantime … let your imagination run wild. 🙂

Reader’s Favorite Review!

Reader’s Favorite Review!

Earlier this week, I submitted Fire Blessed to Reader’s Favorite: Book Reviews and Award Contest.

Today, I received my first professional book review. My first five star professional book review.

*cue unintelligible squealing*

Here is the full review!

Reviewed by Tracy A. Fischer for Readers’ Favorite

Wow! Just, wow! That’s exactly what I thought when I finished reading the great new work of fantasy by author Crystin Goodwin, Fire Blessed, the second book in The Blessings of Myrillia series. Follow the continuing story of our protagonist, Marius Caleo, one of the Favored, popular, wealthy and having everything he could ever want. Everything, that is, except for independence and the power he desires. As Marius strives for more and more, he’s introduced to the Inner Council. And when they offer him an assignment that he believes will lead him down the path to all he wishes for, it’s a quest he can’t refuse. But is this adventure really what Marius thinks it is? You’ll need to read the book to find out?

I so enjoyed Fire Blessed. This book grabbed me from the very start and didn’t let go until the very last page. Author Crystin Goodwin has done a fantastic job at creating complex characters that her readers will be able to connect with and relate to, even in the fantasy environment, which isn’t always an easy thing to do. Her world creation abilities are simply second to none, and her pacing and timing in this book are spot on. Any reader who loves a great book in the fantasy genre should absolutely read this book. I highly recommend Fire Blessed. I can’t wait to read more in this extremely entertaining series, and I hope that author Crystin Goodwin is already hard at work on the third book right now!

Needless to say, I’m thrilled.

My Publishing Journey – Part One

So, I wrote, edited, and revised my first novel. What next?

Well, any good book needs a good cover pitch. And a good cover pitch requires the writer to condense their 70,000 word novel into a couple hundred.

It’s easier than it sounds.

I admit, this was another time I cheated and didn’t research as thoroughly as I should have. By this point, I was obsessed with the idea of holding a physical copy of my book – I didn’t care about the fine details required to sell said book. Big mistake.

The cover pitch is one of the major factors that draw in readers. It’s how the majority of readers decide whether or not they want open to that first page. As such, it needs to tell the reader what sort of story to expect while still leaving enough for them to want to read more.

My first cover pitch failed pretty miserably. I simply read the backs of a few of my favorite books, and pieced together elements of each to get this:

Sometimes, being different can be a good thing.

Other times it may be embarrassing or uncomfortable.

Then again, being different can be dangerous.

The world of Myrillia is an untamed, magical world inhabited by two dominant races. The Melior are elementalists, capable of commanding the power of the Elements. The Transeatur are shifters, capable of taking the form of their Guardian Spirit. The two races have been at war for centuries and the now dormant conflict is about to reawaken.

A young Melior female, Kisara Tenebris, goes about her everyday life, unaware that her world will soon shatter apart. Faced with an impossible choice, Kisara learns just what it means to be different.

Dangerous.

Bear in mind, this little gem took me a day to come up with – that includes research. Compare that to the three weeks I spent researching and formatting and you’ll see that I started to get impatient.

Now, I’m not saying this pitch is horrible: it does have mystery and information that might tempt someone into opening the book. The problem is it has too much information. There are at least five proper nouns and unfamiliar terms that could overwhelm the average reader. Plus, the reader doesn’t even learn who the main character is until the end of the pitch – generally, you want to have that information front and center. Of course, this is all stuff I’ve learned recently.

Armed with a cover pitch, I dived into building my book with Createspace.

Why Createspace? Well, in addition to the incredibly helpful forums that offered tons of advice for self-publishing, they had a superior cover creator system – complete with a huge amount of custom options. I also liked that they were affiliated with Amazon: it almost felt like I was publishing with a big company. Almost.

Here’s where I made major mistake number two – for those who haven’t followed along, major mistake number one was not investing in an experienced content and copy editor. Major mistake number two: skimping on the cover. While the cover creator with Createspace had plenty of customization, it still had a few drawbacks. The font was tied into the template selections along with layout features. In addition to the template shortcomings, I rushed the cover photo process – again, working with a coworker to get something fast and relatively free. The end result? This:

UnBlessed cover

Nothing horrible, but it doesn’t really have the look or feel of a fantasy novel.

Not that I cared. I had a book cover – which meant I had a book! Well, almost. At that point, it was almost the first of March – and I ran into a bunch of problems. I had to tweak my margins, reconsider my trim size (6×9 is the size of the average hardcover – much larger than I’d wanted!) and deal with Createspace running into technical difficulties. While I waited for the website to come back up, I quickly created a map for Myrillia – my fantasy world – and not only figured out how to add it to my manuscript: I posted it as a teaser on my blog.

THAT was one of the best decisions I’ve made thus far. Not the creation of the map: sharing it in a blog post.

That one post resulted in numerous invaluable networking contacts: including my current editor and graphic artist.

To be continued …

Channeling my inner Gollum

Channeling my inner Gollum

I’m mildly – but only mildly – ashamed to admit I’ve been hunched in a corner for the last day mumbling “My precious …” and hissing at sunlight.

Neither of which are a very unusual occurrence, now that I think about it. I frequently get over-excited and possessive, and I’m most definitely a nocturnal creature. It’s why I work nights.

But, too, it’s not everyday you get something like this in the mail:

Covers

Look at it.

Mock bookshelf

(Yes, those are World of Warcraft Collector’s Edition boxes propping up my books. Go ahead. Ooze jealousy.)

Lying down ... because why not?

My … precious

*Ahem* Of course, you all know what this means. The paperback version for Fire Blessed is now available! Granted, it might take a day or so for Amazon to get their stuff together and update my product page, but here are some links anyway.

amazoncoverfire