Lillim Updates

For those of you wondering what is going on with the Lillim series, I thought I’d give you a bit of an update since I’ve been focused on the Cursed Series as of late. (I’m about 20% of the way through writing book 4 btw).

Basically, I’ve been in upgrade mode. I want to get all my ducks in a row before I add a new volume. It’s not that I think the books are bad, but I feel like as a writer I’ve definitely evolved over the course of 18 novels. Lillim is my favorite series and I’d like to have my new skills reflected in that series as well.

I re-edited Hatter back in August, adding about 5,000 words to the book, but I never really did more than that with the series. Now that’s going to change.

Firstly, I’ve completely re-edited Fairy Tale, and the new version is live as of last week. I added almost 6k words to the book, and I feel like it’s much better. I hope the changes prove enjoyable. If you have the old version, you can get the new one by emailing Amazon support and asking them to change it for you. I know of no other way to do it, unfortunately.

I’m also in the process of re-editing Kill It With Magic. I love the hell out of that book, but at the same time I know it comes off as confusing and the pacing is a touch fast. Hopefully, I’ll be able to resolve both of those issues.

I’m also in the process of getting a new set of covers for the series. I really like the cover for Kill it with magic, but I feel like new covers would be well, nice to have. I dunno, it’s sort of a personal thing for me.

Anyway, that’s what has been getting in the way of the new Lillim books. I just wanted to let you guys know in case you thought I’d abandoned the series. That’s definitely not the case. There will, at the very least, be a book 7 and a prequel 2.

I also plan on finishing the Dirge book this year, so it’ll be close. That one might move to January. Time will tell.

Cursed and Marked coming to audio!

So, I have a bit of interesting information for everyone out there in the blogosphere. Recently, I was approached by Tantor, a division of Recorded Books, about the audio rights to Cursed and Marked. After some back and forth, we were able to strike a deal I’m pretty happy with, mostly because it brings you Cursed and Marked in audio format.

I don’t have many details yet on when they will be out, but it should be within the next six months or so. James Patrick Cronin doing the narration, and I’m excited to hear his take on Mac Brennan.

If that’s something that interests you, stay tuned for further updates. If not, well, Burned is now 75% of the way complete. So if you’re in the advanced team, you’ll have it in your hands soon.

I’m really excited for this one because I finally do the big reveal I’ve been saving for book one. I hope you guys think it’s as cool as I do.

Cursed 2 is out!

I just wanted to let everyone know Marked is finally out. You can pick up a copy on Amazon if you’re so inclined.

Marked

Pierce Ambrose. That was the name of the man I’d been sent to kill. The man I’d failed to kill. I have one day left to make good on my contract before the thugs holding my sister and her son start sending me pieces of them.

Pierce Ambrose. A man with a secret I didn’t uncover until it was too late to turn back, too late to give up on trying to kill him.

Now, if I want to see my sister and nephew again, I have to try one last time.

My name is Mac Brennan, and this time, I’m playing for keeps.   

Cursed 2 Update

The first draft is done and came in at 58K words, so it’s a bit longer than the original. I hope that’s okay. The ending is awesome, by the way. You know, in case you wondered.

The arc readers club, you know who you are, should expect to see it sometime next week, and I’ll be releasing it about a week later. Sorry guys, I’ll try to give you more time with the next one. I blame February. They gave me an extra day, but it wasn’t enough. Sigh.

Stay tuned because I’m planning to reveal the cover and title on 3/12! I haven’t seen it yet, so I’m just as excited as you guys.

 

Cursed 2

First off, I have to say I’m absolutely astounded not only by how well Cursed is selling, but also by how much you guys seem to like the book. I worried it might be too dark and gritty, but it seems like it was exactly what you guys wanted. It makes me glad because I was so worried about this book I actually got physically sick.

Before I say any more, I’d like to say thank you to everyone who picked up a copy. It’s truly a dream come true to be able to write for all of you, and I hope to continue to do so to the best of my ability.

I’d also like to say that I sort of stopped writing the Dirge book right at about 15k to work on Cursed 2. I’d started the Dirge book immediately after finishing Cursed because I worried no one would like Cursed. Clearly, I was very wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time, and probably won’t be the last time.

Still, I’m making good progress on Cursed 2, and am about 40% of the way through writing the book. I also spoke to some friends and my lovely wife, and they advised me that you guys probably want to know what’s so special about Sera. Well, fear not, you’ll find out why.

I also wrote a scene where Mac leaps off a motorcycle and punches a helicopter out of the sky. So there’s that. Best of both worlds?

I’m really trying to have the book out by Mid-March. Writing it shouldn’t be the problem, but I still don’t even have a cover because I was stupid and didn’t order one until Mid-February. This time when I ordered the cover, I also ordered a cover for Cursed 3, but I’m not making any promises for that one.

I hope you all can wait that long. I’m going as fast as I can, but I still want to ensure a quality read for all of you.

Still, I thought I’d give you all a glance at the first unedited paragraph of Cursed 2.

**

As I stood there staring at my wall, trying to process how the hell I was going to finish a job I couldn’t remember by the end of the day so some kidnappers would release my sister and her son while they still retained all their pieces, someone slipped a garrote over my head. My left hand shot up, barely getting between the piano wire and my throat as it pulled tight. The loop bit into my flesh, slicing open my palm while my attacker tried to pull me backward off my feet. Yeah, today was going to be awesome!

War and Famine

Death’s Mantle is out now on Amazon. You can grab it there for only $0.99. It’s in Kindle unlimited too, so you can get it that way if you’d like.

Why? Because I finished up War and Famine, the sequel to Death’s Mantle, last week, and will release the book either next week or the week after. I’m excited, the cover is amazing. I’m sure the story is too.

I’ve got some interesting things planned for next year. You’ll definitely see the third Revelation, Conquest’s Hammer, in the early part of the year and the first Dirge Meilan book. I’ve already started writing it, and I have to say, it’s everything I want it to be!

I’ve also got a good handle on the next Lillim book too. Beyond that, I’m committing to exactly zero. I’ve found things change too much, too quickly.

It’s been a busy year, and while I’d like to say I can pump out fourteen more novels next year, I’ve found myself wishing I had held a couple back to pad my schedule.

Honestly, I’ve never been more tired. With the culmination of War and Famine, which is with the editor now, I will have written over 700,000 words in 2015 and published over 800,000 words. That doesn’t include an entire Dirge novel I scrapped.

Still, I have to say it’s been a blast. I can’t believe how many people have picked up my books. It’s a little weird because I look at Kill It with Magic and Wardbreaker. Both are Lillim books, but Kill it With Magic was released back in September 2014 and Wardbreaker in October of 2015. Almost a year apart, and the improvement in my writing quality is just amazing. Absolutely amazing. I’m not saying Kill it with Magic is bad, it’s just not as good to me as Wardbreaker is.

I hope 2016 brings even greater improvement in my writing from a craft perspective. I think I owe that to my readers. After all, you guys are pretty much my entire reason for writing. Well, that and I have so many stories in my head, I feel like my brain is going to burst.

Updates

I’ve been working on Mind Games pretty heavily for a while and am at about the 70% mark. It’s definitely been one of the hardest stories I’ve ever written. It’s sort of funny because when I wrote Wardbreaker, the novel just sort of spilled out of me, but Mind Games is just kicking my ass.

To put this in perspective, I’m averaging something like 2400 words an hour writing this book instead of my usual 3100 words. That means I have to spend an extra hour on the book to make the same progress on Mind Games I did for Wardbreaker.

It’s also required heavy editing so I find myself adding a ton of words on my edits which isn’t something that normally happens. I had a two chapter arc that was somewhere around 3k words for the pair. In my once over edit, I wound up writing an additional 2k words.

This means the book is taking longer than expected which is sort of pissing me off because it’s supposed to be out at the end of the month because I need to write the third Thes book, Unwrapped, for November… guh.

In other news, I’m toying with the idea of writing a thriller along the lines of My Brother’s Keeper featuring a female assassin named Requiem, but am hesitant because it’s really outside my whole girls in leather fighting werewolves genre thing. And well, I have exactly zero time.

I think I’ve got my whole early 2016 schedule ironed out. If everything goes according to plan, you’ll get something like this:

January – Fatal Ties – Thes/Lillim mash up following the events of Unwrapped (Thes #3) and Mind Games (Lillim #6).

February – The Demon Engine – Lillim #7 (We all wondered what happened to Mattoc, eh?)

March – Untitled – Thes #4

April – Spymageddon – Abby #4 (Anniversary of Abby 1)

May – Skaters Wanted – Lillim Prequel #2 (There will be 3 total.)

I may swap the May and February books, depending on how I feel, and it’s my schedule, so I’ll do what I want in the end, but there it is.

Corndog Knife Fight

The first order of business is that I wanted to let everyone know the second Werewolves vs. Mummies book, All Wrapped Up, is out now. You can grab a copy at Amazon if you were so inclined.

Over the weekend, I caught this movie on Amazon Prime called Barely Lethal which is basically about a teenage girl who was raised to be an assassin, goes rogue, and joins a high school, only all her research is based on movies like Mean Girls.

Let me just start off by saying this movie is awesome because it’s part teen comedy, part cool spy movie, and has Samuel Jackson as the father figure/mentor.

It’s not the world’s best movie, but it was fun for me at least. I’m also aware I’m not exactly a winning endorsement for movies. I’m not sure why I like movies like this either. It does have Jessica Alba though and there’s a corndog knife fight.

The best part though was that I finished watching the movie wanting to go work on the third Abby Banks book. This is good because it is like 20% or so away from being finished. I’m hoping to have it done this week.

I’ve come a long way…

I wrote my first novel in 9th grade, and for those keeping track, it was 1998. Yeah… I feel old now. It was called Revelations.

I don’t even remember how long it was, but I do remember I wrote it as this sort of screenplay-esque thing, which was little more than dialog with basic description and action tags.

After that, I wrote a bunch of ridiculously bad fanfiction, but I fancied myself a writer because I could use words like reverberate.

A year later in 1999, instead of partying like it was said year, I rewrote the screenplay as an actual book and hit something like 25k words. It was bad. Terribad.

I then started working on this sort of sweeping space epic fantasy. Even though the only science fiction I had been exposed to was Star Wars.

I wrote about 5k, maybe? I’m not sure, but I stopped because we had to write an origin myth for my Sophomore English class. I remember writing the myth, creating two pantheons that warred over something or another.

I turned it in and my teacher commented that it seemed like I was one of the few students who had even read the creation myth the assignment was based on. I still have no idea what myth she was referring to because I wasn’t exactly the most motivated high school student. I still feel guilty about this from time to time.

When I inexplicably became a junior, I decided to write a sidestory to the original Revelations story. It made it to a whopping 811 words (I looked it up.) The reason it made it only that far was because I had envisioned this three story trilogy for Revelations. This was because, you know, Star Wars was a trilogy. Writing a side story made no sense, at least until the original three books were written.

I wound up writing the second story that year and the third my senior year. They are both horrible, but not that horrible, considering I was eighteen.  I still have flashbacks to this scene where one of the MCs is fighting the Norse deity Fenris in the snow.

I graduated high school and started college. I also took this time to write about 5k of an actual swords and sorcery epic fantasy that was, in words, very bad.

I got worried I’d never be a writer at this time because of one teensy weensy fact. My stories weren’t very good. How could I become an awesome writer if my stories were no good?

In 2003, I went back to starting stuff and never finishing, mostly writing stories about a murderer named Donovan and a boy named Joshua. These… are not bad.

I got a little better and began rewriting the third of my novels, greatly expanding on it. Why? Because of the three, it was the best, and required less work.

It was a fool’s errand though because while I learned a lot from this process, I learned something else. No one is going to read book 3 first. LOL

I decided to bite the bullet in 2004 and rewrite the first book again. I added a llama as a character and because of that, called the draft Revelations llama. This story was the first one I actually showed people. Yes mom, it’s the ones where the kids fly over my high school.

In 2005, I got into fanfiction and wrote 850,000 words or more of that stuff. I’ve talked about this before, I think. Part way into this, I decided to redo my first story and worked on it until it hit something like 42k. This was a big deal for me because it was the longest cohesive story, I’d written.

My wife, who wasn’t my wife then, actually read this story in November of that year. She claims it isn’t terrible, but she has to say that.

I put everything aside then and worked on the first Dirge novel for over a year, until 2007. I gave up because it was just too bad. I still read this and cringe.

I wrote what would be the basis for Hatter is Mad next before scrapping it as unusable and wrote Kill it with Magic, hitting a whopping 55k on the rough draft. I wrote and rewrote this and in 2011 joined a critique group that tore me asunder.  The book wound up at 67k despite me deleting seven chapters.

So what did I do? I put the damn book in a drawer after 150 plus rejections. I kept a spreadsheet. It was a little frustrating because of those 150 rejections only two agents even asked for pages. Evidently, I suck at writing query letters.

During this time, I decided to write Hatter is Mad. I took all the flashbacks from the pre-Kill it with Magic book and incorporated them into Hatter is Mad. I also wrote about 5k of Fairy Tale and 10k of Abby Banks.

Then I got distracted for a year because of, you know, work and life. It didn’t pan out, and I realized something. It was the end of 2013, and I hadn’t written a word in over a year.

2014 came and I dusted off Kill it with Magic and began revising, finding two awesome critique partners to help me. I picked this story because it was the most promising.

And by September 2014 it was released.

Cue to now, well not now, but like Mayish. I picked up that first Revelations novel and read it. I decided, “Hey, I’m a lot freaking better now. I can make this work.” I rewrote it three times until it made my eyes bleed. I deleted a ton of chapters and rewrote basically everything else. I solidified the mythology of the book and found it much more cohesive after I did so.

I guess all this is to say, I just sent my first novel ever to my editor, and I’m scared to death it’s terrible. But, assuming it’s not, you’ll be able to buy Death’s Mantle: The First Revelation in August.

Marketing and Growth

I’ve been studying marketing for the last few weeks. You know, trying to figure out a way to increase the sale of my books. This isn’t to say I’m upset with my current sales. I’m ecstatic anyone wants to buy my books. In fact, I just hit 700 books sold on Amazon yesterday. Not too shabby when you consider I have no idea what I’m doing.

But I thought to myself, “hey self, you know what would be awesome? Selling MORE books.” Thus I began studying book marketing. Saying this makes it seem like I did no research beforehand, but that isn’t the case. I had a lot of the general principles correct, but I was sort of failing at the details, which if you know me at all, seems about right…

Thus, I began what I like to call a three pronged approach to jumpstarting my book marketing knowledge.

I started out by picking up a book called Launch by Jeff Walker. For those of you who do not know, he’s one of the pioneers of email marketing. He does sell a premium video course or something for a bazillion dollars, but I have no inclination to pay for something like that… yet.

Anyway, the book basically details email strategies to use for marketing a product, and honestly, it’s really good.

Following that, I picked up Nick Stephenson’s two books, Reader Magnets and Supercharge. Both were pretty good and provided me more specific information regarding keywords and the like.

I also signed up for Mark Dawson’s free online facebook video course and Nick Stephenson’s free 10k reader course mostly because they were both free and highly recommended by other authors who were selling way better than me. There is a lot of valuable information for book marketing in those two videos, and I’d encourage you to spend the couple hours (total) watching them if you want to sell books. Unless you’re awesome and caught lightning in a bottle. If you are, I want to be you.

You know what’s nuts? After reading Launch, I can actually see the specific moves used in both of those video courses to pivot into selling their premium courses. Not that this is a bad thing, it’s just interesting.

My third prong was to sign up for a bunch of other author’s newsletters, just to see what they were doing. I picked about six or seven and watched. It was interesting because they were mostly all doing the same thing.

So what did I do? I copied them… And I had my best month ever last month. To put this in perspective, let me show some numbers.

In February 2015, I had my second “major promotion” for Kill it With Magic to coincide with the release of the third Lillim book, Fairy Tale. It was, by far, my best month for a while because I moved 163 copies of my books on Amazon.

In April 2015, I ran my third major promotion of Kill it with Magic, because I set the book to free. I also ran free promotions on Hatter and Alone in the Dark. I also ran a major promotion for May Contain Spies. This led to a month where I moved 129 copies on Amazon. I moved another 30 or so on all other vendors. (Kobo, B&N, Apple, Google)

In May 2015, I put all my books back in Amazon select. I made a post about it. I ran no promotions this month. All I did was email my reader list like how Jeff Walker suggested I do it in Launch instead of the way I had been doing it. You know what? I moved 194 copies that month… with no promotions. And on top of that because there were no promotions, I moved books at full price. I wound up making over $300 that month on just Amazon.

Considering my best month before that was about $150, I’d say it was pretty freaking awesome. I remember talking to my wife and saying,”I might break $200 this month.” Then, just a few days later, saying, “Actually, I may break $300!”

Now, I know I’m not moving the copies like some of the people you hear about in the news, nor am I making enough money to do very much with, but wow, it felt pretty good to release a book to more than crickets.

I think one of the major differences was I began actively trying to build my email list in April using Mark Dawson’s method. I went from around 10 names (most of whom were my family members, I love you guys) to about 50 names in April. Right now, I have a hundred names on it. I knew everyone said the list was powerful, but it’s hard for it to be powerful when there’s no one on it.

I can’t even imagine what would happen if I got a thousand names on it, which at this rate, will happen in around January. Maybe sooner since growth seems to follow some kind of exponential curve I’m unable to calculate exactly. It seems to grow by about 20-30% per month per book… but there’s a lot of extraneous data I need to figure out still.

Still, all of this makes me really excited for the Under Wraps release.

Now, this isn’t to say I haven’t been marketing at the expense of writing books. I have 9 titles out now and two more on preorder. I’ll get another probably 8 out before the end of the year. It’s been a lot of work thus far and mostly depressing at that. It’s especially frustrating to spend every afternoon, weekend, and morning writing books only a handful of people are buying. (Which yes, is still amazingly better than no one buying them, though I know what that feels like too. I’ll take low sales to no sales any day of the week.)

This month, I’ve been focusing on optimizing my books keywords and sales page on Amazon using Nick Stephenson’s methods.

I’ll leave you with my data since I started in September 2014.

 

Month Year Total books (-free-promo) Total books (+promo) Release
Sep 2014 24 Kill it with Magic
Oct 2014 10
Nov 2014 5
Dec 2014 12 63
Jan 2015 28 Hatter is Mad, Alone in the Dark
Feb 2015 39 163 Fairy Tale
Mar 2015 52 Pursuit, Lillim 1-3 set
April 2015 71 129 May Contain Spies
May 2015 194 Caleb 1, Hardboiled

 

1 2 3