The sequel to the Amazon Top 20 science fiction bestseller is here!
Three weeks on a ship to China as a stowaway. Backbreaking labor in paddy fields. A one-room shack for a house.
Vika Cannon will endure anything if it means giving her unborn child and her sister Ceres a chance to grow up. The Great Land may be fraught with dangers of its own, but it’s still safer than the grim Asylums and stinging acid rains of their poisoned home. The brutal conditions seem a small price to pay…especially with Shale Underwood to come home to.
But when a local cell of New Amanian Radicals is captured, Vika knows it’s only a matter of time before her true identity is revealed. In order to survive, she must immerse herself in an underground society where masked strangers revel in the spoils of illicit power.
A mistake now could result in her unmasking—and the obliteration of everything Vika holds dear. As the net around her cinches tighter, she begins to understand that nothing in life is free.
What will Vika trade for her family’s safety?
Buy it on Amazon
Find it on Goodreads
To celebrate the release of Land of Masks and Moonlight
, it is being offered for $2.99 for one day only, until December 10 at 11:59 Eastern! After that, the price will go up to $3.99.
Haven’t started the series yet? Book 1, World of Shell and Bone
, is only $0.99 until December 12th!
A free audio book download of World of Shell and Bone is available to one lucky commentor. Sound off below. One of you will be picked at random to receive the audio book. About S.K. Falls
A huge fan of spooky stuff and shoes, S.K. Falls enjoys alternately hitting up the outlet malls and historic graveyards in Charleston, SC where she lives and imbibes coffee. Her husband and two small children seem not to mind when she hastily scribbles novel lines on stray limbs in the absence of notepads.
Since no writer’s biography is complete without mention of her menagerie of animals, you should know she has one dog that doubles as a footstool, a second that functions as a vacuum cleaner, and a cat that ensures she never forgets that her hands are, first and foremost, for pouring cat food.
S.K. Falls is represented by Thao Le of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. Visit her on her website
, or Twitter
No matter how you slice it, book launches are hard. There's no easy way to do it, but there are several steps that can make the process bearable and make you, the happy author, contented to just pop the bubbly when the happy day arrives. Below is the list of eleven things I did before my book launch. It is hard to say what any one thing would have done by itself, but as a joint effort, my book
, The Believers, was able to make it into the #1000s on Amazon rankings and my first book, The Breeders
made it to #500. Pretty successful in my mind.
Things I did before book launch:
1) Set up a BookBub
promo .99 cent for my first book. Book Bub is a very popular subscription service. For a fee they push your book out to tens of thousands of subscribers. Plan at least a month ahead and be prepare for rejection. My other book was denied because it was a relatively new title and I am a relatively unknown author. (I was super lucky and got this approved the day after my release. ) On another note, I used a Kindle Countdown Deal for The Breeders which let me keep 70% of the royalties instead of 35%. Since I sold almost 800 books in four days that is a huge savings. I highly recommend using Kindle Countdown Deal.
2) Contacted all my blogger friends and awesome book people to ask for blog space. I send out one contact email to all the people who I know might want to help. I keep a running list all year long of who those people are so I don't have to scramble when release time comes. Book bloggers are awesome and so are all my other indie author friends. You have to be willing to reciprocate when they have their launches, but I love helping all my indie friends.
3) Posted first chapter on my website. I did this two weeks beforehand. I also did a cover reveal about a month or two before. Countdown posts on social media with the release date in them were scheduled about once a week.
4) Did a pre-email to my newsletter group letting them know when the book would release. I have about 200 on my newsletter list. Not a ton, but a good start and all of them have asked to be notified so they are likely to be some of the first to buy.
5) Did a follow up email to my newsletter group on the day of the release. Just as a gentle reminder. I kept it light and short. I was releasing on Black Friday and knew some of the turkey hangovers and shopping sleep deprivation could cause them to forget.
6) Did several posts via Facebook and Twitter announcing the release date.
7) Set up a paid review tour for January. I am doing this through Kismet Tours who did a great job with The Breeders book tour. I wish they could've fit me in before the release date but alas. Always plan way ahead.
8) Sent out ARCs to reviewers who were asking for them. My book blogger fans are some of the best people in the world and I love them.
9) Joined an author co-op with some awesome ladies of Indie Speculative YA. More to come on this.
10) Did a giveaway of signed copies on my website. Hopefully you entered. Hopefully you won. If not, stay tuned for more swag and prizes.
11) Paid for a Facebook Ad on my release day so that all my Facebook fans and their friends would see the post. Everyone wants to know, right?
There you have it. My framework for a release. I did these things in stages and had everything ready to go so all I had to do on release day was spread the word and check my stats. I've done three book launches so far, but I am sure there are some of you more seasoned than I. I'd love to hear from you. Sound off below.
It's here! The Believers: Breeders Book 2 is available on Amazon and Kobo. (Coming soon to Barnes and Nobel and Apple.)
For today only it will be $2.99 and after midnight the price will go up to $3.99 so get your copy now. And drop me a line after you read it. I'd love to hear what you think.
To celebrate, The Breeders (Book 1) is currently on sale for $.99 until the 3rd. Tell your friends and neighbors. Also, I'll be giving away signed paperback copies of both books. Enter to win below. BUY IT ON AMAZON (PAPERBACK AND EBOOK) BUY IT ON KOBO BUY IT ON BARNES AND NOBLE
Young adult dystopian author, Sarah Dalton, is hosting a giveaway of the first book in her series, and I wanted my fans to be able to enter. Below is the blurb to pique your interest. Enter the contest below. And may the odds be ever in your favor!
A beautiful world comes at a price...
In a world filled with stunning clones Mina Hart is Blemished. Her genes are worthless and that takes away her rights: her right to an Education, her right to a normal life and her right to have a child.
Mina keeps a dangerous secret which she never thought she could share until she meets Angela on her first day at St Jude's School. But their friendship is soon complicated by Angela’s adoptive brother Daniel. Mina finds herself drawn to his mysterious powers and impulsive nature. Then there is the gorgeous clone Sebastian who Mina is forbidden from even speaking to…
The Blemished is a frightening take on a fractured future where the Genetic Enhancement Ministry have taken control of Britain. It will take you on a ride filled with adventure, romance and rebellion.
Book one in the popular YA dystopia series 'Blemished'.
For all of you patient fans, here's a sneak peek. Chapter One of The Believers, Breeders Book 2.
Five of us duck behind a boulder scorched by the day's heat as the approaching car's headlights pierce the night.
“Get down,” Clay whispers, drawing up his revolver. The steeliness of his voice sends gooseflesh galloping over my arms.
I curl up, my knees tucked into my chest, my back dug into the boulder's hard surface. Beside me, Ethan scrunches down until he's a little bit of a thing, a wiry jackrabbit of a kid with his bony arms around his knees. When I lay my hand on his shoulder, he’s trembling. Mama crouches on the other side of him, one hand wrapped around her pregnant belly, the other on Ethan’s arm. Even though we've cropped her hair short and she wears men’s clothing, it'll be easy to tell she's a woman. No man has a stomach that round unless he's got a belly full of tapeworm.
Rayburn, the Breeders' doctor who helped us escape, sits beside her, clutching one of Clay's revolvers to his chest. I roll my eyes. A gun in Rayburn’s fist is like a handsaw in the hands of a toddler: just as useless as it is dangerous. I heft the rifle. The warm stock fits snugly in my palm like it was made for me. I'm a decent shot, even in the dark, but I've got five shells left—maybe. Five precious shells. I try not to think about what will happen when the bullets are gone.
Clay shifts beside me, his thigh brushing against mine. I know this low crouch hurts his wounded leg. All night he's walked beside me without complaint, but he’s getting weaker. The speckle of sweat on his brow is unmistakable no matter how many times he wipes it away when he thinks I got my eyes on the horizon. He hasn't had time to heal, but how could he? We've been driving and starving for days. Then our truck ran out of gas yesterday. We knew it would happen. It didn't make it any less of a punch in the gut when it did.
The sound of a car motor reaches us, a wheezy, choking sound. Whatever approaches is not some new, souped-up Breeders' vehicle, but that doesn't mean they’re friendly. Everyone on this road is our enemy the way I figure.
The chugging motor draws closer, the ground vibrating in anticipation. I press my back to the rock and look up at the sky, trying to slow the patter of my heart. I recognize a constellation amongst the splattered stars, but I can't remember the name. Cassiopeia? Andromeda? Six pinpricks of light in the shape of a W. My step-daddy, Arn, used to teach me stars’ names, pointing with his calloused fingers, drawing lines to connect them. Now Arn's a few months dead and my memories of him are fading. I look away and push the sadness down deep.
Then the car is upon us, headlights streaking everything into long, black shadows. We all crouch together and wait. Breathe. Pray. The car rumbles past, tires bumping down the pitted road. One red taillight glows as they continue along their way. I blow out a breath and wonder where they're headed. Hopefully to a town not far from here. We need food and a car if we're ever going to get back to Auntie.
A hand on my chest draws me out of my thoughts. Clay's tensed arm presses me back to the boulder. I open my mouth to protest, but then I hear it. The squeal of brakes. The slam of doors. They've stopped. They're getting out.
Mama's hand tightens around my arm. Rayburn looks at me through his greasy black curls, fear etched on every feature. He pushes up his glasses, the revolver wobbling in his hand. In the moonlight, I find Clay's face. Beneath his cowboy hat, his brow is folded, his lips a tight line. He's calculating. How many shots to take them out? What angle? I can see the discharge of his gun in my mind's eye. Hopefully it won't come to that. We can't waste bullets.
Footsteps head our direction, boots scraping the pavement, slow and steady. Two sets. Two men. Each step toward us makes my heart lurch. With my back to the boulder, I can't see them and it's making me crazy. There's only one reason they'd have stopped: they spotted us.
I shift and Clay's hand tightens. “Stay down,” he breathes in my ear. Then he stands.
What in God's name is he doing? I reach for him, my heart slamming in my chest. Is he trying to get himself killed?
“Ho there,” he shouts. He levels his revolver. “That's close enough.”
I rise up ever so slightly and peer over the boulder.
Two men stand in the middle of the busted two-lane highway. The first is tall and skinny with a wide-brimmed hat and a shaggy beard. His bug-eyes and long neck make him look like a lizard in a trench coat. I can't make out the rest of his features, but his clothes are worn and holey. Maybe he's a rancher or a lower-class road gang member. The man beside him is a little better dressed in patched jeans and a sleeveless leather jacket. His head is bare and the moon reflects off the bald surface. He's wearing cracked glasses that make him look owl-like.
“Whoa, friend,” owl man says, holding up his hands in a gesture of surrender. He's missing both pinkies. “That's quite a pistola you’ve got there. Give 'er a rest. We come in peace.”
Clay shakes his head, his aim never wavering. “Ain't nobody come in peace these days. Turn round and get back in yer dirt wagon.”
Lizard man chuckles behind his scraggly beard, his neck bobbing back and forth. He pushes back his hat and narrows his bug-eyes. “Well, now,” he drawls slowly, “that ain't too neighborly. We jist stepped out to take a piss. We ain't got guns.”
“You ain't got guns showing,” Clay says. “Doesn’t mean you ain't got guns. You can take a piss a couple miles down. Now get back in yer car or I'll stop asking nice.” He thumbs down the safety with a click that cuts through the desert.
The two men stand stock-still, hands at their sides. Lizard man tilts his head slightly, considering Clay. “Ain't nobody had bullets in these parts for months. What you so worried about us seeing behind that boulder?” He narrows his eyes and takes a step forward. “I know you ain't alone.” A smile curls on his mouth, slow and nasty.
Clay's jaw hardens. “I asked you nicely.” He takes a step forward, aiming. “This is how I ask now.”
The gun fires. The shot cracks through the night like a bomb. Mama gasps. The gunpowder spark lights up Clay's face: his eyes squinted, his jaw granite. Lizard man whirls sideways, left arm out like a sail. A spray of blood wets his partner's shirt. Lizard man staggers twice and falls to his knees, facing his friend. Bent over and clutching his wound, lizard man stares.
Then he starts howling.
“Clay,” I whisper. Will he shoot them both? We need every bullet in that gun. He says nothing, just keeps aiming.
Lizard man half-runs, half-staggers back to the car. Blood plops on the pavement with a heavy, wet sound. His partner pushes up his round, blood-splattered glasses, fear crinkling his face. “You didn't havta!” he shouts as he turns to run. “You didn't havta shoot 'im.”
Clay narrows his eyes, still aiming. “I don't havta shoot you either.”
Owl man lets out a little squeal as he runs back to the car jumps into the driver side. The car engine chugs to life and they peal out in a spray of gravel. When the taillight is a little red dot in the distance, Clay slumps down beside me.
I place my hand on his arm, smiling, but once I see his face my smile fades. Sweat sprinkles his forehead and rolls down his neck. His face is pale, yet his cheeks blaze red. The revolver clatters to the dust as his arm sags against the boulder. The calm gunslinger act has cost him.
Leaning over to him, I wipe the sweat off his brow with my sleeve. “Clay,” I whisper, “you did it. You scared 'em off.” I press my hand to his cheek tenderly. I hate seeing him like this.
His hand cups mine, his sky-blue eyes shining in the moonlight. There's no smile on his face. “This time.” Slowly, he reaches for his revolver and flicks out the chamber. Five bullets rest in their cylindrical beds. He frowns and snaps the barrel back with an awful click. Rayburn's revolver has six shells and I have five. I know what he's thinking. What happens when we run out of bullets? What happens to us?
My mama stands, drawing my eight-year-old brother, Ethan, up with her. Her cotton T-shirt flutters against the swell of her newly pregnant belly. “Can you walk?” she asks Clay softly. He nods, pushing up, hiding a wince of pain behind a small quirk of his mouth. As I help him stand and take a sip of water from our canteen, a chilly wind stirs. Clay's body shivers. Then he throws his arm around me and shuffles forward.
We walk on the shoulder of the road. North, toward home and whatever awaits.
The Believers releases November 29th, 2013. Sign up for sequel notifications above.
As you may know, book marketing is a regular topic on my blog. I've been guerrilla marketing my books for a year now and have tried many strategies. To learn about other tips you can try part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7 and part 8 at each respective link. As I am sure you are aware, Google AdWords is quite the behemoth when it comes to advertising these days. Pay-per-click
advertising is being used by shoe stores,
plumbers and psychologists all over the world. Business owners sign up, customize an ad, and target it to customers based on very specific criteria. In twenty-five characters or less, you construct a sales pitch and link it to your website or include a phone number. Viola, you'll be racking in the cashola. Or so you hope.
With Google's monster reach and seemingly endless stores of data, you can see how powerful this might be. But, could it work for books? How do you par down a 90k novel into a twenty-five character blurb? Do people who click on Google Ads then go on to buy books? I had thought no, but then I read an article discussing a man who makes a living helping people use Google AdWords to sell novels
. (I link to him only to illustrate that he exists. I did not work with him, nor am I endorsing his services in any way.) So, I thought I'd do my own little experiment to see if I was missing the bright glittery Google boat.
Step One: I read up on Google AdWords. Here are some websites that I found helpful: Newbies Guide
, The Savy Book Marketer
. I had some prior knowledge from when I'd used this service for another business, but I felt very confused about many aspects of AdWords. Let me be clear, this system is not for the technologically challenged. There are all kinds of tools and buttons that made me feel like I was back in my college level statistics again. Right off the bat I was inundated and overwhelmed. Since I have minimal time for marketing, I did not spend countless hour researching. This may be my biggest downfall when dealing with Google AdWords and may also explain why there are people paying others to help them create ads.
Step Two: I wrote my ad. I did some research on keywords and use their handy-dandy keyword planner. This is a cool tool that lets you know which keywords are searched most often. So instead of "novel" you might choose "fiction" in your ad. This is helpful and I wish I'd had more time to play around with the keywords. That being said I wrote my ad. Here it is.
Then I gave it a $25 budget and sent my little ad baby into the world.
The Results: In seven days my $25 budget had been spent. Each click cost me between $0.39 and $2.89. Now, remember I only make $2 if I sell a book. If an ad costs me more than I get in sales revenue, that is a problem. In hindsight, I think I need to make my budget less than 3 dollars a day. You live and you learn, I guess, but this isn't play money I'm messing with. This is my hard earned cash (and, people, boot season is fast upon us and Mama needs a new pair of shoes). All joking aside, my ad seemed to work and was clicked on. My sales saw no boost that week. I actually sold about six books less that week than any other week that month. My budget limited my exposure, but again, I am not able to spend endless amounts of cash on a strategy that hasn't really proven will pay the bills. If I spent more time and energy learning the ins and outs of Google, I might make more money. Then again I might not make any. If someone clicks, Google takes my cash regardless if I make a sale or not.
The Conclusion: I am really not convinced Google AdWords can sell books. If you have A LOT of time to research this very complicated tool, it MIGHT be worth something. Then again, you'll never really know how much it sells because all you know is they clicked on the ad. There's nothing to tell you if they bought your book.
So, what about you? Any luck with Google AdWords? Sound off below.
This weekend I had the privilege of attending MacGregor Literary
Marketing Seminar in Chicago, Illinois. Some of you may know that MacGregor Literary is my agency. This was my first time being able to meet with the good people who represent me, including my fabulous agent, Amanda Luedeke. Though I have spoken with Amanda on the phone, I've never been able to meet her in person. I knew a five hour car ride with my husband, listening to his strange musical selections was worth the chance to meet Amanda and all the other authors represent by the agency. So, we packed up the car, left my children in the loving care of their grandmother (and her hyper wiener dog) and headed to the windy city.
First of all, let me say that the first events were nerve wracking to say the least. Since it was my first seminar, I felt like 1) I was the only person there that knew no one (including her agent) and 2) I was the only one who had not yet gotten a publishing contract. I was pretty sure as soon as these seasoned veterans started talking to me they'd politely find an excuse to go clean bathroom grout, or anything else equally more exciting. What I found instead was some amazing authors all of whom were very kind and very welcoming. Amanda was charming, smart and hilarious, all the things I suspected she was. And Chip MacGregor could be a stand-up comedian in his next life. I got to know some amazing authors like Leslie Gould
who writes amazing Christian Fiction, and Jill Williamson
who write speculative fiction for teens (just like me!). Getting to hear their perspectives and ask them questions was invaluable. And making writer friends is always amazing whenever or wherever it can happen.
The marketing seminar was very helpful. So many fantastic ideas were thrown out that I don't think I can chronicle them all in one post. I will say that I learned I need to define my ideal reading audience and do more specific targeting. I need to approach bloggers and reviewers with the mindset of how I can help them, not the other way around. And I need to consider titles that make my books more searchable on Amazon. (Don't worry. I plan on another post next week highlighting some of the best advice on marketing I've gleaned to share with anyone interested.)
Overall, it was a great experience. One I hope to duplicate in the future. Thanks again to Amanda and Chip and all the people at MacGregor for putting on such a lovely event. It will be a highlight of my year for sure.
It's finally done! The cover for The Breeders' sequel is here and I'm so excited. Thanks to my cover artist, Andrew Pavlik for all his hard work with my constantly changing mind. Here's the book's blurb to pique your interest.
They’ve escaped the Breeders, yet their journey has just begun.
Riley and Clay are once again on the run from the Breeders. The group may have escaped the deranged experiments at the hospital, but as one of the world's last free women, Riley can never be safe. On the road back home, Riley and her crew are captured by a band of savage men. Their destination: the Citadel, run by a bizarre religious prophet named the Messiah. Somehow he knows their secrets. He wants them to join his group of Believers, but only if they’ll drink the baptismal water and swear allegiance.
The problem is there’s something wrong with the water. Something wrong with the people. And there’s human moaning coming from the bottom of a dark crevasse that no one wants to talk about. If they can’t figure out what’s going on, Riley and everyone she loves could become a Believer forever.
Releasing November 29th, 2013! Stay Tuned for more.
As you may know, book marketing is a regular topic on my blog. I've been guerrilla marketing my books for a year now and have tried many strategies. To learn about other tips you can try part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6 and part 7 at each respective link.
Anthologies. Are they worth it? Do they help sell books? Can they cross-mingle readers in the same or similar genres? Well, that is what I set out to find out. Regular readers and followers of this blog likely have already heard about my joint venture with some of indie's best dystopian YA authors, but I'd like to spend a little time discussing the sales outcomes of doing an anthology and then some of the extra benefits that may stem way beyond just sales.
The seed for my anthology idea came from a group called the Indelibles. If you haven't heard about these ladies, check out the link (after you read my
fantastic post of course). They're a group of a dozen women writing and publishing independent novels of high quality. They band together to promote, support and otherwise throw an arm around each other on this crazy quest called authorship. They put out an anthology called In His Eyes, a collection of short stories told through the male perspectives in their novels. This seems like a really easy way of letting your fans know about other quality indie authors and vice-versa. After I saw what they had done, my brainpan started pinging and I set to work emailing some indie authors I knew.
I was able to get five top-notch authors in my genre and age group to agree to take this project on. We each contributed a short story set in the world we had created in our novels. One of our group was a whiz at formatting and cover art. Another was a marketing pro. Together we created a really great anthology (insert shameless plug here "Go buy the book. It helps promote inner city girls' literacy . You want to help inner city girls' literacy, right??") and I'm really proud of it. We set it up, launched it and held our breath.
The result? Well, not much actually. It seems people aren't that pumped about anthologies (or helping inner city girls (I'm kidding. I'm sure everyone who's reading this cares about inner city girls)). I guess I understand. Short stories collections don't sell as well as novels. People want full length tales they can dive into and swim around in for a while. Still, I was hoping for more in the way of sales of the anthology. Between the five of us we have pretty good selling records. That, however, did not seem to translate over to our anthology.
So if it didn't help me sell more books, would I recommend doing it to indie authors? Yes, absolutely. Here's why. The extra benefits I got far exceeded my work and monetary output. I have five amazing new writer friends who are in the same boat I am. Their friendship, guidance and support was worth any effort it took to create an anthology. Also, the ROI for this was very high. It cost me nearly nothing and, since I used a story I'd already written, I didn't have to expend much energy or time either. I would say it was way worth it for those reason, however if you aren't interested in making awesome friends and only hard sales, I'm not sure this is the right route for you.
What about you? Any luck in doing an anthology? Sound off below.
Friends, fans and anyone on the blogosphere, I wanted to give you an update as to how The Believers: Breeders 2 is doing. The good news is I have worked on it every day since March and it is shaping up to be something I am really proud of. I admit there were times when self-doubt, that ugly ol' monster, came knocking. Writing a sequel is hard by any measure and I had many moments where I fretted that book 2 would disappoint. But, I'm happy to say I don't think readers will be disappointed with this installment. Feedback from beta readers is positive and I'm feeling good about the direction in which the book is going. I might go as far as to say that it is nearly ready.
Today, September 30th, I will send my worked-over and polished-up draft to a fabulous editor, Ms. Lindsey Alexander, who was recommended to me by author A.G. Henley of The Scourge. If you haven't seen A.G.'s sequel, you should pick it up. She's sold a ton of books which only solidifies my belief that Lindsey is going to rock the socks off my draft. Once she is finished with her edit and gets it back to me, I have to make changes. Then I need to get the book out to my copy editor for all those tweaks that make the book shine. Then it will be ready for the world.
My timeline is an end of November release, just in time for Christmas and cozy by-the-fire reading. I know you've been waiting patiently, but I promise it'll all be worth it. Here's the teaser to get you by.
They’ve escaped the Breeders, yet their journey has just begun.
On the road back home, Clay, Riley and her family are captured by a savage group of physically huge, but mutated men. Their destination: the Citadel run by the seemingly psychic religious prophet, the Messiah. Somehow he knows their secrets. He wants them to join his group of believers, but only if they’ll drink the baptismal water and swear allegiance.
But, there’s something wrong with the water. Something wrong with the people. If they can’t figure out what, they’ll become one of them and become a believer forever.