Jilly: Free Novella – The Pulse of Princes

Another year, another Elan Intrigues novella, except this one’s a freebie 😀

You may remember I changed my plan for The Seeds of Exile, the novella I published last month. It’s a sibling rivalry story about Prince Daire of Caldermor and his brother, Prince Warrick. It can be read as a standalone quick read, but it also links the first Elan Intrigues book, The Seeds of Power, with the last one, The Seeds of Destiny.

My initial plan was to offer Exile as a free read to my newsletter subscribers, until I realized the story wasn’t the best choice to introduce new readers to the world of Caldermor and elan. Instead, I wrote a new prequel story about Daire just before he becomes crown prince. He gets a reality check and has to decide whether to challenge the status quo in Caldermor or follow meekly in his father’s footsteps.

This week I finally linked that novella, The Pulse of Princes, to my newsletter sign up page. Yay!

I decided not to offer it for sale, so I won’t be loading it to Amazon or the other e-tailers. I want to keep it as a thank-you for new (and existing) mailing list subscribers. I probably spent more than I should for a freebie—Deranged Doctor Design for the cover, Karen Dale Harris for developmental editing, Anne Victory for copyediting—but I wanted the novella to be of the same quality as my paid Elan Intrigues stories. It is!

Here’s the blurb:

What is a woman’s life worth?

Daire Edevald, heir apparent to the principality of Caldermor, knows his duty. He must make elan, mysterious golden bean-shaped curatives that bring the Edevald family wealth and power. Then he must relinquish the precious pulses to Princess Irmine, his formidable mother, to fund Caldermor’s governance.

But when Daire discovers that the stable-master’s wife is gravely ill after gathering swamp truffles for a royal feast, he feels obliged to help. Twelve pulses of elan would cure her. Daire has made thousands, but he owns none—and Princess Irmine won’t waste a single pulse to save a hireling.

The maidservant’s survival becomes a critical test of Daire’s fast-approaching sovereignty. If he wants to change the principles that drive the Edevalds’ elan use, he must start now. Even if he has to challenge his fierce mother, his dying father, and most dangerous of all, the shadowy immortal guardian of Caldermor.

Here’s an excerpt from the opening scene:

Daire crossed to Lightning and scratched the stallion’s favorite spots around his neck and ears, thinking hard. The answer, when it came, was embarrassingly obvious.

He gave Lightning a final pat and stepped away from his mount. “You said bloodsucker fever can’t be cured, but elan can cure even sharp fever. Surely it can help the body overcome bloodsucker poison.”

“Oh, elan. Elan cures everything.” The stablemaster dismissed Daire’s brilliant insight with a wave of his stubby hand. “Elan’s for people like you. Royalty. Aristocrats. Not for the likes of Vi.”

“Violet got sick hunting truffles for people like me.” Daire waved his own arm in the direction of the palace on the hill and the great houses that surrounded it. “If a few pulses will save her life, why wouldn’t we use them?”

Fisher turned around to stare at Daire, though he kept his arm around Dawn’s neck. He didn’t say a word, just made a kind of soft clicking noise with his tongue. He had a whole vocabulary of noises he used in the stables. This one usually meant one of his four-footed charges had done something unexpected.

“A pulse of elan is worth a year’s wages to a retainer. Two years to serving folk like us.” Fisher spelled it out as though he realized Daire had no idea what his servants were paid. “I couldn’t guess how many pulses it would take to cure Vi. More than a few. Maybe as many as a dozen.”

“A few, a dozen… Our dynasty is built on elan.” Daire spoke as much to himself as to Fisher. “What kind of rulers have we become if we can’t spare the price of a woman’s life?”

Fisher’s eyes opened so wide he looked as though he’d been throttled. His mouth seemed to be gasping for air too.

“I’ll have to speak to my mother.” Daire wondered what she’d say. She wouldn’t be pleased, but she was fair. Violet’s hurts were their fault. If he explained how the problem had come about, surely she should agree it was their duty to help.

Fisher finally found his voice. “Vi is worth the world to me. But Her Highness may not agree.”

Fisher’s misgivings were likely well grounded. Daire grimaced. “My mother bears a heavy load and makes hard choices every day. I hope she will grant me a favor. If not…” Well, they were about to top up the royal reserves with another month’s worth of pulses. And elan matters were the prerogative of the Edevald men, not the crown princess.

*****

If you’re not already a subscriber, I hope this tempts you to give my newsletter a try. If you’re interested, here’s that link again: Subscribe to Secrets & Treats.

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Jeanne: Booksweeps Promo

Hurry, hurry, hurry! Come one, come all!

Promoting my books always makes me feel like a carnival barker, but the truth is, this is a great deal. If you like paranormal and/or sci-fi romance, it’s an excellent opportunity to learn about new authors and have a chance to win books and maybe even an eReader.

Booksweeps promotions connect readers of a particular subgenre with authors who’d like to reach a wider audience. First prize is an eReader plus a free copy of every book in the sweep. Second prize is a free copy of every book.

Readers get to review the list of participating authors and select the ones that look like good fits for their reading tastes. Each newsletter subscription is another chance to win.

Authors pay to be included but it’s free for readers.

The promo ends Wednesday, so click here today!

Jilly: Booksweeps Sword & Sorcery Fantasy

Do you know about Booksweeps?

I discovered them last year, when Jeanne included one of her Touched By A Demon books in a paranormal romance sweep. I joined an Epic, Sword & Sorcery Fantasy collection, and it went so well I decided to do it again this year. Here’s the graphic for this year’s sweep:

A Booksweep is a contest that aims to connect avid readers of a particular subgenre with authors who’d like to reach a wider readership. First prize is usually something like an e-reader plus a free copy of every book in the sweep. Second prize is a free copy of every book.

Authors pay to be included. Readers don’t pay to play. They sign up for the sweep by joining the mailing list of the authors they like the look of out of the selection offered. They don’t have to join every list, but each one they join gives them a better chance of winning. Of course they could immediately unsubscribe from every list they choose, but past experience suggests that many don’t—as long as they enjoy the newsletter.

Epic, Sword & Sorcery Fantasy is a nice broad definition and I think the fifty books in the bundle offer something for anyone who enjoys reading this subgenre. There are wizards, warlocks, orphans, slaves, assassins, royalty, fae, dragons, monsters, even a centaur 🙂 .

My book The Seeds of Power is historical fantasy, set in a royal court. It has a strong heroine, chivalrous hero, elemental magic, and life-or-death stakes. I think it will fit right in.

I like stories that highlight a central character—double yay if she’s female—so I’ll be reading the blurbs and Look Inside samples to see which ones best suit my tastes.

Do any of the covers in the graphic above grab your attention? If so I’d love to know which ones, and why.

If you like the idea of Booksweeps, but fantasy isn’t for you there are current and upcoming sweeps featuring romantic suspense, thrillers, inspirational, new adult, paranormal and sci-fi romance.

The Epic, Sword & Sorcery Booksweep runs until Wednesday (13 January). If it looks like your thing, click HERE to join me there (and I hope you win)!

Kay: The Train Wreck of Traditional Publishing

Did you ever wish you had a traditional publishing contract? Count your lucky stars. Since our pandemic began, traditional publishing has gone off the rails.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch breaks it down for us on her blog. It all began when she tried to order a book in June and was informed that the book would ship in September. Surprised that it wouldn’t arrive sooner, she looked into why that should be.

And guess what? It turns out that traditional publishing isn’t all that nimble when it comes to crises. Here’s the story.

What the heck happened?

When the pandemic hit and bookstores closed, some publishing companies moved their biggest spring and summer releases to the fall, hoping that the situation would have recovered by then. But as the pandemic dragged on, the schedule fell apart, because the fall schedule was already mostly full. Continue reading

Jilly: The Murderbot Dilemma

How much would you pay for an ebook? Or a series?

I’ve been trying to decide whether to invest in Martha Wells’ Murderbot books. I don’t usually dither over book purchases, but this series has me hovering over the buy button.

The community on Argh Ink (Jenny Crusie’s blog) loves Murderbot. Jenny loves and re-reads the series. These are smart people. They read a lot. They’re sharply observant and constructively critical about their recommendations and DNFs. They tend to like the kind of stories I like. So that’s a strong positive.

I read the first novella, All Systems Red, and really enjoyed it. I wasn’t desperate to read the next book immediately, but I haven’t forgotten it and moved on. I felt like that about Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles—had a hiatus of maybe a couple of years before I bought the second book—but that series became a favorite and one that I regularly re-read.

The Murderbot premise is great—an introverted, self-hacking robot protagonist who’s technically not a person but who has an engaging personality–fascinating, funny and conflicted. The author makes you care about the character. The writing is clever and complex. The stories are sci-fi, with lots of great world-building and action, but deeply character-driven. As far as I can see from a quick scan of the reviews, the first four novellas arc to a satisfying conclusion.

There’s really only one argument against Murderbot. The price. According to the many disgruntled reviews on the Zon, the first four titles are essentially one book, with each act published as a separate novella. According to Amazon US at the time of writing, they are: Continue reading

Jeanne: What a Tangled Web

Back in 2017, I hired a local web developer, who also happened to be a romance author, to build a website for me. It wound up taking longer than I anticipated (around five months) and consuming a lot of energy, but in the end I was happy with my site.

It was themed with my brand, matched my very fun covers, and had this very cool animated snake.

Then I learned, much to my chagrin, that ophidiophobia, fear of snakes, is one of the most common fears and that the presence of that snake on my covers and my website would discourage potential readers.

Once I had time to absorb this, I hired a new cover firm, who created the “hot guy” covers that sell so much better and created a website header to match my covers.

toucheddemon-estridge-TW

About the same time, my developer encountered a series of life-altering events and decided to get out of the website business. She sold my site maintenance contract to another firm. Continue reading

Jeanne: Another Cover Story

originalsin-estridge-ebooksmallOn Sunday, Jilly shared the cover of her new novella, The Seeds of Exile. It’s spectacularly alluring and I think it will perform well for her. (Hope so!)

I, also have a new cover to share, along with a snippet from the short story it fronts.

If you’ve read any of my Touched by a Demon books, you’re familiar with Lilith, the she-demon who serves as one of Satan’s primary agents on Earth. Although Lilith excels at fieldwork, she ends each story headed for the maggot pit because she’s also Satan’s primary whipping girl when things don’t go as planned.

“Original Sin” is Lilith’s origin story and I’ll be giving it away as a freebie to anyone who signs up for my newsletter. It won’t be on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or any other vendor site–only as a reward for joining my subscriber list. (And to everyone who’s already a subscriber, of course.)

The cover was created by Paper and Sage, who also did my other covers. I love that this one echoes those, but it’s enough different to signal that this is something…different. A short story, rather than a full-length novel.

Here’s the tagline and blurb for the story:

In the beginning, God created Adam and…Lilith?

Meet the founding member of the First Wives Club. Before Adam met Eve, he was married to Lilith. Created at the same time and from the same dust as her husband,  Lilith views herself as Adam’s equal.

What if the original sin wasn’t curiosity?

Here’s the first scene (lightly edited in keeping with Eight Ladies’ PG rating): Continue reading

Jeanne: Using Instagram to Sell Books, Part 3

Today we come to the paper-pushing portion of this series: how to use the attractive, friendly Instagram account you’ve set up to actually sell books. There are several ways you can do this:

  1. The most direct method is to create a flatlay, an Instagram post that features your book cover with an attractive background and post it. You can include a quote from the book, either as text on the graphic or as comment, but remember that Instagram is primarily a visual, rather than a verbal, medium.

Here’s one for Eight Lady Jilly’s debut novel, The Seeds of Power, that I created back at Christmas:BookBrushImage-2020-2-15-11-1047

 

How, you ask, do you make a pretty picture like this if you don’t have a nice background available? Continue reading

Jeanne: Using Instagram to Sell Books, Part 2

Last week, we talked about how to set up your Instagram account for maximum attraction to book buyers:

  1. Limit yourself to three topics.
  2. Identify and adhere to an overall layout. Good article on that here.
  3. Choose a limited color palette.

This week we’ll add some more pointers and talk about how that may translate into book sales.

First: Build an attractive, friendly profile. Continue reading

Jeanne: Using Instagram to Sell Books, Part 1

IG logoOn Saturday I was asked to speak at a local workshop on the business side of being an author on the topic of Instagram. Although I’m no one’s idea of an Instagram Influencer, and I have no graphic arts skills, I was okay with talking about it because:

a)  I LOVE Instagram. It’s all pictures and no politics. From the first day I joined, back in April of 2016, it felt like a perfect fit.

b) Over the last year I’ve taken a couple of classes on IG, so I know some best practices.

Today I’m going to share some of those best practices with you.

BP#1: Pick a lane or, actually, 3 lanes. Instagram works best if you limit your range of topics. Mine are: my books, my flower photographs and things-I-see-when-I’m-out-walking. Continue reading