BLOG : Where all my Useless Knowledge Lives

My 2020 Indie Author Experiment hiring a PR Company for a New Release…

Hello everyone!  If you’re a reader of books and not an author, there’s a good chance your eyes are going to glaze over from this latest blog post.  For that, I do apologize.  However, if you’re an author (or future me reading this post somewhere down the line) then you might be curious about the results of my experiment in hiring a PR Company.

As an independent author not signed to any publishing company, you have to do everything yourself.  I’ve learned how to edit, format, create graphic teasers, and do my own book covers.  I’ve also dabbled in marketing and promotion with very mixed results.

Things I’ve tried in the past:  newsletters, newsletter swaps with other authors, paying to be in newsletters with Freebooksy, Book Raid, Fussy Librarian, Book Doggy, and Excite Spice.  Let’s not forget author takeovers on Facebook, 99 Cent Kindle Countdown Deals, posting in all those spammy Facebook groups where a million other authors post their books and we all get lost in the crowd, and signing up with Instafreebie (now called Prolific works) to get newsletter subscribers.

I’ve also chased the elusive review by offering ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) to anyone and everyone willing to read my stories.  Back in the day when I was wet behind the ears, I feared Piracy like it was the plague and I actually BOUGHT Amazon copies of my book to give to reviewers.  I don’t need to tell you what a total waste of money that was.  Maybe I do… it was a HUGE waste.  Probably half the people never even reviewed the books I purchased for them.

But I digress.

The absolute last resort… the one thing I’d never tried… was to hire a PR Firm.

If you Google book PR companies, a myriad assortment will pop up online.  I asked around in a few Facebook author groups and the same names kept popping up.

So I endlessly researched where to spend my hard-earned dollars.  The terminology was enough to give me brain freeze.

Do you want a release blitz, sale blitz, book blitz?  What about a blog tour, release promo, release boost, pre-order blitz, review blitz?  Perhaps a promo tour or a package combining the above services would be more up your alley?

All the words sounded the same to the point where I had no idea if up was down and if I’d somehow landed in the Matrix.

So I thought, “Screw it.  I’ll just email the companies and see what happens.”

Company One replied in a super snotty manner acting as though I should beg them to take me on as a client.  All sorts of criteria had to be met in order for the stars to align and they might let me hire him.  They also didn’t even answer the questions I asked in my query email.

Company Two told me they were not taking new clients at this time.

By now I was getting a major attitude feeling like a supermodel told to lose fifteen pounds if she wanted to get any work sent her way.

Moving right along… Company Three seemed like a winner.  They were quick to respond to my email, answered all the questions I asked, and… most importantly… were willing to work with me.

Okay, fine.  Through process of elimination, I hired Company Three.

No, I’m not telling you their name.

Why not, you ask?  Because they were very nice, but I did not get good results.  Therefore, I refuse to disparage them in a public forum.

Anyway, I paid $100 for a new release/blog tour/review package.  The company would offer my book (Contemporary Romantic Comedy/Suspense… full length… Stand Alone… no cliffhanger) to their list of bloggers in search of people to read/review/promote my new release.  I had no idea what to expect going into this whole process.  I mean… what kind of results did I wish to achieve?  What did I hope for?

I’ve had problems in the past getting a decent amount of reviews for my books.  My last new release (same thing… contemporary romance… full length… stand alone… no cliffhanger) came out in May of 2020 and it currently has nine reviews four months later.  This is kind of disappointing honestly.  I want to be one of those authors who gets fifty reviews on release day.  I also want to eat chocolate without gaining calories, win the lottery every time I buy a ticket, and be able to put out the wildfires raging the Pacific Northwest with the nod of my head and twitch of my nose like Samantha on Bewitched.

Needless to say, I would also actually like to sell books.  If a bunch of bloggers are reading and reviewing my book… then their followers will realize it exists, it will be on the radar of rabid readers, and I’ll sell more copies… right?

So my goal with the PR firm was to get more reviews than usual, and to spread the word about my book.  People can’t buy it if they don’t know it exists.

One of questions I asked PR Company Three was, “How many reviewers do you usually get to review the books?”  I was told that my genre can garner anywhere from 15-50 people willing to read and review.

Sweet.

So let’s aim for some middle ground… how about 25 reviews from the PR Company?

Also… if it costs me $100 to hire them, I would need to sell 50 books in order to make that money back and not be in the hole financially.  ($2.99 per book sold equals $2 in royalty money for me.)

Nice.  We now have a goal of 25 reviews and 50 book sales generated by the PR Firm.

Spoiler Alert… didn’t happen.  Not even close.

But we shouldn’t skip ahead.  We should go in chronological order of my experiment.

At some point I decided I needed to get off my ass and help things along just in case the PR Company didn’t pan out.  This led to me emailing or Facebook-messaging ninety-two book bloggers.

Of those ninety-two, only thirteen agreed to read and review my book.  Some were polite enough to respond that their calendars were full and they just didn’t have time to read my story, but they were happy to promote it on release day.  That was very nice of them to offer and I appreciated their kindness immensely.

Of the thirteen that agreed to read and review… one never gave me their kindle address to send the book, five never bothered to leave a review or to reply to a follow-up reminder.  That leaves me with eight reviews gained from spending HOURS contacting bloggers.  (In case you’re doing the math and saying, “thirteen minus six does not equal eight,” you’re right.  One blogger had two reviewers that both left reviews.)

Deciding I was getting nowhere fast with the bloggers, I turned to Facebook groups.  I’m in roughly eight reader groups that would allow me to post my ARC sign-up and try to gain reviews from readers.  Of those eight reader groups, I got sixteen readers willing to take me up on the offer.

Of the sixteen that agreed to read and review… four left a review.  After messaging them a gentle follow-up reminder, I shamed them into five more reviews for a total of nine garnered by this method.  Not bad.

By this time, I’d gotten the spreadsheet from PR Company Three with a list of those who agreed to review and/or promote my new release.  There was a whopping total of nine bloggers who agreed to review, and roughly ninety-nine that said they would promote it with a post on their blog or Facebook page.

Only nine reviewers signed up?

Considering the fact that I got thirteen sign-ups from contacting bloggers myself and an additional sixteen sign-ups from trolling Facebook, I was certainly not impressed with a mere nine from the company I was paying.

This was my first indication that I’d wasted my money.

After that little nugget of reality that I’d only get nine reviews from the PR Company at most, I decided I needed to boot-strap it just a little harder.  I had an immense internal debate with myself over putting the ARC on Booksprout.

For those of you who have never heard of Booksprout, let me explain.  It’s a website designed to connect readers and authors.  The free version allows an author to offer 20 ARC copies to reviewers.  It has limited piracy blocks and non-reviewing-reader blocks.  Obviously they’d like you to upgrade to the paying version where there are stricter rules for reviewers and an unlimited amount of review copies can be distributed to maximize the number of reviews you’ll receive.

Naturally, I’m on the free version because I’m cheap.

I decided not to worry about piracy and just go balls-to-the-wall at this point.  Due to the fact that I’m a no-name author who’s scrounging for reviews, piracy is the least of my problems.  If someone gets an ARC and passes the Mobi file on to their cousin, their neighbor, or a pirate website… too bad, so sad.  At least people will be reading it then.  The whole point of writing words and sharing them is to get people to read them.

So I loaded my ARC to Booksprout and waited.  The low self-esteem part of me was still reeling from PR Company One and PR Company Two acting like I wasn’t good enough for them, and I held my breath hoping the Booksprouters wouldn’t be the same way.

They were not.

I threw out my little worm (the ARC), and those hungry fish snapped it up in record time.  By the third day of offering the ARC on Booksprout, I’d maxed out my twenty giveaway copies.

Sweet.

Therefore, I figured, the blurb and cover must not be total crap.

Score one for the good guys.

Let’s fast-forward a bit in time to release day.

I sent out my newsletter a month before release day and managed to snag 14 pre-orders of my book.  Not too bad.  Also… good to know I can attribute these sales to me and not to PR Company Three.

On the actual day of release, I sent another newsletter.

Now it’s time for shit to get real.

I had a seven day package with PR Company Three.  Three days were pre-release to generate buzz.  Four days were the actual release day and the subsequent three days following.  Here’s how it went:

Days One-Three:  No pre-orders.

Day Four (my newsletter went out): 8 sales (one to a friend, so not attributed to PR Company)

Day Five: 3 sales (one to a friend, so not attributed to PR Company)

Day Six: 2 Sales

Day Seven: 1 Sale

Day Eight: no PR company promo    1 Sale.  We’ll just assume this was a late straggler.

Okay then.

14 pre-orders.  2 sales attributed directly to friends.  13 sales of unknown origin we’ll attribute to PR Company Three just for shits and giggles.

Ahem.

Goals:  25 reviews and 50 sales from the PR Company

Actual Results:  9 reviews and possible 13 sales from the PR Company assuming all the unknown origin sales were directly attributed to them.

Summary:  Less than stellar return on investment.

But wait… there’s more.

Miss-Failure-With-Reviews-On-Her-Last-Book is currently sitting at 32 reviews on Amazon and a tad more on Goodreads.  How did this magic happen?

Seven people from my Reader Group reviewed and TWELVE people from Booksprout left reviews in addition to the eight from bloggers I contacted, Seven Facebook ARC readers I nagged at, and PR Company Three’s nine reviewers.

Okay.  That adds up to over 32, but some only left reviews on Goodreads and not Amazon.

Are you still with me so far?  Is your head reeling from all the math?  Probably.  But I love numbers.  I’m a numbers girl.

I’d just like to do a basic summary for everyone still reading this.

PR Company:  not even close to being worth the money.  The majority of bloggers who were kind enough to share my new release on Facebook didn’t get any ‘likes’ or ‘comments’ on their posts except for when I ‘LOVED’ and commented ‘Thanks for sharing!!!’ thus leading me to believe not too many people even see those posts.  I would not hire a PR Company ever again.  I got way more sales/reviews on my own.

Newsletter:  Yes, this is a valuable tool and seemingly the best way to sell books aside from your reader group on Facebook.

Reader Group on Facebook:  mine is filled with lovely people who are very supportive and remind me every single day that I keep writing because they keep reading.  They have no idea how much their kind words keep me going.

Booksprout:  Hell, yes.  From now on, I’ll be using them for every new release.  What’s better than free and easy?

So, Future Grace, if you read this blog post again… and I hope you do…  quit wasting so much valuable time and effort to get reviews on your own.

Newsletter, Booksprout, Reader Group: YES.

Anything else:  Fuck no.

Reviews don’t sell books.  PR companies don’t sell books.

Writing more books sells books.

Til next time…

Don’t ever give up.  I certainly haven’t.

Grace

A list of happy things…

Hello everyone.  This newsletter/blog post has a dual purpose.  I’d like to tell you about my newest book release, but I’m not the kind of girl to spam you with random stuff to buy and then flitter off into the sunset.  I don’t pump and dump.  I’m not a wham, bam, thank you ma’am.  I like to sell my wares with a bit of finesse if you will.

For that reason, I’d like to focus on something else for the beginning of this correspondence.  Normally, I’d start with an entertaining tale of something currently going on in my world, be it a humorous story of how my dog pooped the bed (she did last week… such is life.  One look with her innocent puppy dog face and I’m a goner.  That seventy pound beast can do no wrong), how my husband always has way more wisdom than I do (how was I supposed to know that a FOX belonged to the canine family?), or enchant you with yet another example of why I’m a total klutz (vintage pyrex with gold designs can NOT go in the microwave without causing sparks and potentially burning down your kitchen.  Lesson learned).

However, I’m currently at a loss for a simple and heart-warming story.

Why?  Why the sudden Grinchly attitude?

  1. That’s why.

I can’t go on vacation, I don’t feel comfortable eating in a restaurant, I can’t go to work without hearing political ramblings from obnoxious customers who think their opinions are the only ones that count, I can’t turn on the television without seeing hurricanes and millions of acres of wildfires, I can’t sit through a show without seeing an assortment of political ads rotating from one candidate to the next until I want to throw my remote control through the screen and shout til I have no voice left.

This is the year for pandemics, protests, and general bad news all around.

But you don’t want to read my complaints.  You’re living it yourself; who needs another reminder that we’re smack dab in the eye of a shitstorm?!

So I decided I was going to make a list of TEN positive things we can all agree on.  Just ten tiny little reasons why the world isn’t a complete toilet right now.

Grace’s List of Awesomeness:

1)  Dogs.  Do I really have to say anything else about this?  Yeah, they may eat rabbit poop and then wake you up with a full blown wet kiss right on the mouth, but who can fault such innocent exuberance?  Not me, that’s who.

2)  Chocolate.  There is currently no shortage of chocolate.  You can take my toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and anything else that might not be readily available at all times, but there’s still a plethora of milk chocolate on the shelves.

3)  Aliens.  As bad as things are, it could always be worse.  Now seems to the be the opportune time for the alien mothership to arrive, circle the planet, and place fighter ships over every single major city to really put the icing on the cake of 2020.  Yet… look to the sky… do you see them?  Nope.  Not yet, anyways!

4)  Pepperidge Farm Cinnamon bread.  Yes, I understand that I already have a food item on the list, and that it usually never fails to take me two tries to spell CINNAMON, but I’m still putting this on the list.  Just take a bite of this and tell me you can’t forget your problems for just a second.  Yeah.  It’s that good.

5)  Good People who aren’t Assholes.  Yes, they’re out there if you look hard enough.  I’m talking about firefighters who do their best to put out the blazes others start.  Front line workers in the medical industry, teachers struggling to navigate the new normal, grocery store workers that keep the shelves stocked, factory workers that keep the supply chain flowing, garbage men, and all those hard workers that bust their ass making minimum wage but still get up every morning over and over again to get the job done.

6) Oktoberfest Beer.  This is my husband’s answer and not mine, per se.  He bought some new fancy beer and he liked it.  But alcohol is definitely a noteworthy item that should be on the list.

7)  Movies.  Turn out the lights, put on an old favorite such as ‘Roadhouse’ with Patrick Swayze, stare at his fine form and naked ass, and let yourself be transported to another time when people smoked in bars, didn’t wear masks, and the good guys always won.  Then turn off the television and sigh in relief to realize that Sam Elliott only died in the movie and not in real life.  Oops.  Spoiler alert if you haven’t seen ‘Roadhouse.’

8)  Modern Technology.  Do you really want to live in the good old days long before 2020 was even a blip on anyone’s radar?  When there was no running water, no flush toilets, no electricity, and no internet?  No modern medicine, no chapstick, no refrigerators, no cars, no planes, and no smart phones?  No thank you.

9)  Your health.  My mom just called and I asked her to name something she’s thankful for.  She said, “If you have your health, you have it all.  If you don’t, then nothing else matter.”  This is true.  Thanks, mom.

10) Books.  During these trying times, it’s nice to be able to immerse yourself in a fictional world and forget about the present day and anxiety of the future for just a brief moment.

Wow.  Isn’t it convenient how item number ten is a book?  That’s literally the perfect transition into our second and final topic.

My new book!

I wrote a book.  It’s called ‘King’s Redemption’ and I feel like it’s different from some of the stories out there today because it has a character with Down Syndrome.  No, it’s not a main character, but it’s a very crucial supporting character.

The book goes up for sale on Amazon TODAY (Tuesday September 15), so feel free to click on the link, check the look inside feature, and see if it sounds like something that interests you.  It’s enrolled in the Kindle Unlimited program so you can read it free if you’re a subscriber.

Here’s the cover:

Here’s the blurb:

A random act of kindness pays off in deliciously unexpected ways…

After Nora Clark finds a distraught young man with Down syndrome, she attempts to reunite the lost stranger with his protective older brother.

Oh, what a brother he has!

Tall, muscular, and Dangerous with a capital ‘D,’ tattoo artist Dalton King is the exact opposite of what play-it-safe Nora has ever experienced.

In the blink of an eye, Nora suddenly finds herself swept up in a whole new world full of adventurous mini-golf by day and illegal underground fights at night. Making matters just a bit more complicated? Her disapproving friends and family don’t exactly support this new carefree lifestyle.

Will Nora pump the brakes and return to her pampered existence? Or can Dalton convince her there’s so much more to life than taking the easy route?

King’s Redemption is a full length, stand alone suspenseful romantic comedy with endearing characters, all the feels, lots of steam, and enough plot twists to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Here’s the buy link:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08F4MJR7T

That’s all for today.

Stay safe, stay healthy, stay sane in a time of upheaval… and please feel free to share your suggestions of items that should be on my happy list!

Til next time!

Grace

Having Fun with Undergarments…

Hello everyone!  Today’s topics include masks and free stories.  Don’t start freaking out and think I’m going to get all political and either (1) complain about wearing a mask or (2) complain about people who don’t wear masks.  Nope.  Not at all.  There’s enough scary stuff, divisiveness, and general all around crap on the TV news every night, and I’m not about to add to the cesspool.

(I will take a moment to sadly inform David Muir of ABC news that I had to quit watching his nightly broadcasts in order to switch to NBC news with Lester Holt.  I have a huge crush on David, but I couldn’t take anymore of his teasers.  I swear the first three minutes of the show is a summary of what topics he’ll be discussing, the next five minutes is yet ANOTHER recap, and I get all of twenty-four seconds on the actual story.  We’re broken up, David.  If you want to win me back, please change your ways.  That being said, my husband prefers Jose Diaz Balart and he mocks everyone else because he doesn’t like their tag line.  Yes, we take our nightly news quite seriously at my house.  But I digress.)

What was I talking about?  Ah!  Masks!

My seventy-one year old mother has taken it upon herself to be the mask-maker for the world.  Before you start with the “Aw, isn’t that sweet,” and the “She’s so amazing!” you should probably know how she’s making the masks.  After watching several YouTube videos on her tablet, freaking out because she doesn’t know how to pause the video without stopping it and having to go back and start from scratch, and making masks the size that would fit a Cabbage Patch Doll, she finally cranked out some protective gear in an adult size.

But wait… there’s more.

She went to the local thrift store and bought leggings and t-shirts to cut into masks.  When they didn’t work exactly how she liked, she went to the dollar store and bought socks.

Sock masks are evidently all the rage.

After making a sock mask, she needed to share this trendy creation with the world.

By ‘the world,’ I mean her daughter.

I was told that she made me a mask and I had to wear it.  There is no asking me to do something, but rather telling me what I’ll do.

Ever since I was a kid, I was either told, “You’re eating this!” or “I’ll give you fifty cents to eat this!”  Sadly, the going rate hasn’t changed and she still offers me fifty cents to do something.  Yes, I usually do it.  Don’t judge me, those quarters add up in a hurry!

Sorry, off topic again.

Anyway, I went to her house and was given a thin sock mask that was nearly see-through with the webbed material.  But all is not lost, because the sock mask came with a FILTER.

Here is a mostly accurate recreation of our conversation:

My Mom:  I made you a sock mask.  Wear it.
Me:  This looks pretty thin.
My Mom:  It has a filter.  You put the filter over your mouth.
Me:  This is not a filter.  It’s a folded up paper towel that is so small it doesn’t even cover my whole mouth or nose.
My Mom:  Then unfold it once and make it bigger.  You need the filter or the mask won’t work.

Me:  It’s not a filter.  It’s a paper towel!

My Mom:  It’s a paper towel filter.

Me:  It’s not a filter!  It’s a fucking paper towel!

My Mom:  Just wear the damn thing!  Do you know how long it took me to make that!?  They’re comfortable!

Needless to say, I did not wear the sock mask with the paper towel… I mean the highly advanced germ-reducing filtration system.

But wait, because there’s even more.

I got a phone call at lunch today with an update on the mask situation.

My Mom:  I’m done with those damn sock masks.  I went to WalMart today and got a ten pack of Hanes masks for $20.  That’s two dollars a mask.  They’re white.

Me:  It’s white?  That’s going to get dirty.

My Mom:  It’s a washable fabric mask made by the Hanes company.  They make t-shirts and underwear.

Me:  Thank you.  I’m familiar with the Hanes company.  So you basically bought a white underwear mask?

My Mom:  They make masks out of the fabric that they use to produce their clothes.

Me:  So… you went from sock masks to underwear masks?

My Mom:  It’s really comfortable!  I got ten of them!  You’re taking one home with you!

My strategy is to protest that I don’t want one, in the hopes that she’ll lose her patience and offer me fifty cents to wear it.

Grace’s get rich quick scheme:  2020 Edition… two quarters at a time!

Okay.  What else is new?  Not a damn thing.  I go to work, I come home, I eat supper, drink my nightly shot of blackberry brandy, and then do the same thing again the next day.  With everything closed and the normal way of life completely disrupted, this has turned into the summer of monotony.

Are you bored too?  What are you doing to combat this heinous boredom?  All suggestions are appreciated.

That’s it for today, folks.  Stay safe, keep your sense of humor, and remember… paper towels are extremely valuable for their multitude of uses!

Til next time….

Grace

Sizzling Summer Update!

Hello everyone!  Are you having a magical summer full of awesome festivals, trips to your local amusement park, and sports outings to support your favorite baseball team?

Hell, no you’re not!  It’s still 2020 and we’re still smack dab in the midst of checking random items off our apocalypse bingo card.  If you chose bat pandemics, toilet paper shortages, civil unrest, murder hornets, and overall chaos in general, then your psychic powers are way better than mine.

Since most of the fun summer activities are still under lockdown, I don’t have much of an exciting update for you today.  However, I’ll do my best to report in on what’s new with me.  Today’s topics include Strawberries, My Rummage Sale, Old Age, and New Names.  Ooh, sounds good doesn’t it?  Let’s dive right in!

1) Strawberries.  If you’ve been following along, you already know that I got a strawberry plant, AKA Berry Manilow, a month ago.  I’m happy to report that he’s doing marvelous!  I also got another strawberry plant, some fancy dirt, and made cages to keep out the pests from eating my crops.  When you divide the cost of supplies by the six berries produced by the two plants… well… the numbers aren’t in my favor.  Let’s just say that those berries are damn expensive!

2)  My Rummage Sale.  I had a rummage sale in June and it went really well.  We had a lot of shoppers (most not wearing masks, sadly) and got rid of a lot of crap.  It’s nice to see a clean garage.  There weren’t any notable customers, but I did see a fair amount of interesting t-shirts.  One man had an ‘I support the right to arm bears’ shirt.  He actually bought a lot of stuff and I liked him right away.  My husband and I took turns complaining to each other about the prices.  He told me I priced stuff too low, and then he started taking any crazy offers that people threw at him just to get rid of stuff.  Lessons learned:  people will take stuff if it’s free, but records aren’t popular and neither are clothes.  If you don’t want to haul stuff to the local thrift store, price it as FREE from the get go, and it will get gone.

3)  Old Age.  I woke up one day in May and suddenly decided I had unsightly facial wrinkles.  Thus began a quest to get rid of aforementioned wrinkles.  Primarily I have crow’s feet, but just around one eye, which I find strange.  Anyway, I did some research and polled my Facebook Reader group.  In the end, Olay Regenerist won and I bought two jars because it was buy one, get one half off.  I expected to slather that shit all over my face and miraculously wake up looking ten years younger with not a wrinkle to be found.  Obviously that was not the case.  If a magic potion could erase wrinkles, it would not cost $25 per jar.  Lesson learned.  I applied the cream morning and night, without fail, for one solid month.  What were the results?  I started waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to sleep straight through.  Usually I’m a very sound sleeper.  Also, I have an eye-floater now.  I looked at the sun (I’m a dumbass!), saw a FLASH, and then suddenly had an eye floater.  Obviously I blame the sleeplessness and eye floater on whatever toxic chemicals make up the ingredient list in Olay Regenerist.  I immediately halted that experiment and moved on.  My new brilliant idea is to put Vaseline petroleum jelly on the crow’s feet and see what that does.  If you have any anti-wrinkle advice, I’m all ears.  Please share.  Also, I religiously wear sunscreen and avoid the sun at all costs, so you don’t need to tell me that will help stop Father Time.  I’m SPF 100 all the way.

4)  New Names.  A while back I wanted to try my hand at writing erotic short stories in attempt to ‘get rich quick.’  Obviously I did no such thing.  I created a pen name (Alta Lavoy) and cranked out a whopping total of four stories.  I found that it’s hard to write all sex, all the time.  Also, I can’t in good conscience charge $2.99 for a 30-50 page short story, which is the going rate.  In the end, it was a pain in the ass to keep track of two names, try and decide if a story was an ‘Alta Story’ or a ‘Grace Story,’ and deal with all that went along with marketing and promo for two names.  That led me to get rid of the Alta Lavoy pen name on Amazon and transfer Alta’s four stories to Grace’s name.  I was very hesitant to do this, because nothing goes smoothly when you’re dealing with Amazon.  Much to my utter disbelief, the process could not have been easier.  That’s how Grace got four more stories added to her Amazon Author Page.

But wait… there’s more!

In case you’re curious about these stories, I’d like to invite you to check out two of them for the low, low price of absolutely FREE.

Up first, we have… drumroll…

Stuck in an Elevator Grace Risata Cover

Stuck in an Elevator. (This is a F/F first time lesbian erotic encounter)

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07HDVJ3DV

During the worst heat wave in years, Tanya finds herself stuck in an elevator with a total stranger. The power goes out leaving them trapped with no hope of immediate rescue.

When the temperature rises, both clothes and inhibitions are cast aside. Will our voluptuous heroine give in to her secret fantasies and explore a whole new world with this tantalizing stranger?

Come along for the journey with Tanya and her uninhibited female companion…and find out what happens when they give new meaning to the phrase, ‘going down.’

——-    ———–    ————-    ————-

Next up, we have…

Teasing the unknown caller grace risata cover

Teasing the Unknown Caller  (This is a M/F erotic encounter.)

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07N6MG8PR

Being raised by an overprotective mafia kingpin meant that college co-ed Eva had no opportunity to explore her deepest desires.

When a chance phone call from a telemarketer interrupted Eva while she was taking matters into her own hands, things quickly escalated between the two strangers.

Captivated by her dirty words, Martin is all too eager to meet Eva in person and turn her fantasies into reality. After all, everyone deserves a first time they’ll never forget…

——-  ————      —————-            —————

Both those short stories are absolutely FREE on Amazon from July 1-5.  Why am I being nice and giving away free stuff?  What’s the catch?  Cuz there’s gotta be a catch, right?

Well, sort of.  ‘Stuck in an Elevator’ is a stand-alone story.  ‘Teasing the Unknown Caller’ kinda leaves you hanging and wondering what might happen next in the sexy world of Martin and Eva.  Well, wonder no more!

‘Watching Their Forbidden Tryst,’ book two in the Martin and Eva series, coincidentally goes LIVE on AMAZON today for only 99 cents!  Imagine that!

Forbidden tryst jpeg

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08BLF7BKR

What should innocent Eva do when she finds herself trapped in the kitchen pantry while two of her father’s employees have a forbidden erotic encounter mere feet away?

The curious woman becomes unbelievably aroused by this first time voyeur experience, and later has the tables turned when she plays the part of exhibitionist while a total stranger watches.

–           ——-  —————-            ————-     —————-

Ooh!  Such sizzling reads to melt your kindle in the July heat!

Okay, that’s all I have for today.  I’m hard at work on my next book.  It’s a full length suspenseful romantic comedy that I hope to have out in the next few months.  Take care of yourself, keep on truckin’ through 2020, and don’t forget to share your wrinkle cures.

Til next time!

Grace

 

Tulips and Onions…

Hello Everyone!

This blog post/newsletter is going to be short and sweet.  We have exactly two goals today.  Number one is to let you know about my new pet.  Number two is to let you know about my new book release.  After those two announcements, I’ll let you return to your regularly scheduled lives.

I’m not sure where exactly you live, dear reader, but in my neck of the woods it’s starting to feel like SPRING.  The sun is out, the temperature is rising, and I have the same ‘urge’ I get every year to turn into Susie Gardener.

Let me now take a moment to remind you that I am the furthest thing from Susie Gardener imaginable.  You name it, we kill it.

Cucumbers and Zucchini?  The flowers fall off the plants and do not turn into healthy vegetables.  On the off chance a miracle occurs and something grows, the cucumber beetles swarm those damn things like they’re the only sustenance in a five hundred mile radius.  I have given up on those entirely.

Tomatoes?  Last year my cherry tomatoes got weirdo translucent bottoms, and I believe google helped me diagnose it as ‘blossom end rot’ or something similarly ominous.  I have given up on those entirely.

Green Peppers?  Tried those two years ago and they were gross.  I don’t even remember what the problem was.  It was probably something so traumatic that I blocked it out.  I just know that it didn’t work and I have given up on those entirely.

Pumpkins?  We planted GIANT HEARTY PLENTIFUL GROWING Pumpkins (that’s probably not their scientific name, but it’s the name I gave them.)  We got one pumpkin from the entire two vines.  I have also given up on those entirely.

Lettuce?  Full of bugs and tastes bitter.  Thank you, next.

Broccoli?  We actually did pretty well with those… until the squiggly neon green worms decided to take over and stake their claim.  I have probably given up on those, but it’s not definite yet.

Daffodils?  Don’t even get me started, because I’ll probably start dropping the F Bomb.  It’s not even a food… you literally plant the bulbs in the fall and the things just grow like magic.  Unless you’re a putz and only THREE of your SIX bulbs even sprout and are now currently one inch tall when several of your neighbors already have full flowers blooming left and right.  Eat shit, Mr. Daffodil.  I’m done with you.

That brings us to Tulips and Onions.  All is not lost.  I have an army of Tulips I’m about to unleash on the three daffodils in a battle royal for domination of the yard.  As for the Onions?  They’re raging.  I swear I could plant those bad boys in the North Pole and they’d still sprout, defiant little freaks that they are.

In case you’re thinking, “Dude, why did you capitalize the T in Tulips and the O in Onions?  Aren’t you a writer?”  Yes, I am.  I’m simply giving them the respect they deserve.  In my heart, the Tulips and Onions are the Cockroaches of the world.  They will not die, no matter what you throw at them.  For that, I am eternally grateful.

This brings us to my new pet.  Since the weather is getting nicer and I have the annual urge to plant stuff, I’ve decided to go in a new direction entirely.

The Starburst Strawberry.

I paid a whopping $3 for the cutest baby strawberry plant you’ve ever seen in your life.  (Okay, maybe you don’t live under a rock and you’ve seen plants before.  Work with me here, will you?)  It’s adorable.  It has three teeny tiny baby strawberries and I’m hell bent on seeing them grow to maturity.

Yes, in case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve grown obsessed with my new pet, Berry Manilow.  No, most people do NOT name their plants.  Yes, most people are not me.

Since it’s too cold to plant Berry Manilow in the garden due to frost issues, I repotted him in a big pot with fresh dirt and lots of drainage holes.  I also moved the kitchen table from the center of the room where one would normally find a kitchen table, and put it right up close to the window so Berry Manilow could bask in the morning sun on his table throne of importance.

I’m hoping against hope that Berry Manilow lives a long and fruitful (pun!) life of luxury at my house.  I mean… I got my first lab pup when she was six weeks old and kept her alive for ten years until she passed away from cancer.  My second lab is currently seven years old.  I’m clearly capable of nurturing living things, so a strawberry plant shouldn’t be that hard, right?

Sigh.  Cross your fingers and wish me luck, cuz I have a feeling I’m gonna need it!

Moving right along.  Do you want some bookish announcements?

I have not one but two new stories to share with you.

Today, May 5, my newest full length novel ‘The Reluctant Bachelor’ is live on Amazon and ready for purchase.  I also released a steamy short story ‘Quarantine Quickie’ back on March 28.  You want some covers, blurbs, and links?  Okay, you don’t have to twist my arm!

(Ah, if you’re a subscriber to Kindle Unlimited, both stories are FREE to read with that program, as are every single one of my other books.  Otherwise ‘The Reluctant Bachelor’ is $2.99 and ‘Quarantine Quickie’ is 99 Cents.)

The Reluctant Bachelor…

The Reluctant Bachelor Final Cover

Link:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B087PP5Q9G

Blurb:  Carla Pinelli is not your average woman. Taught self-defense at a young age by her overprotective father, she suffers from a debilitating social phobia around men. We all have our quirks, right?

Ever since Carla’s best friend Freddie got engaged to a former gigolo, eligible bachelors have been coming out of the woodwork to show their interest and try to stake a claim on the introverted lady.

Now our heroine finds herself smack dab in the middle of a love square with no less than three suitors vying for her attention. Love triangles are a dime a dozen, but a love square can be a bit more complicated.

Should she choose Marco, the gorgeous male escort who refuses to let her shy streak get in the way? They did share a sizzling kiss…

But what about Alexander, the dominant pimp who appreciates Carla’s spunky, take-no-prisoners outlook on life? He’s not likely to take ‘no’ for an answer…

Last but not least, we have Vin, her best friend’s brother. Having known Carla for years, there’s a certain comfortable familiarity that only he can offer.

Take a look inside to find out which participant in the love square can win Carla’s heart, and go along for the wild ride after they hook up. After all, no one ever said true love comes easy…

This full-length 100,000 word stand-alone comedy romance contains plenty of suspense, plot twists and turns, a badass heroine not afraid to speak her mind, and a guaranteed happily ever after. It does not end in a cliffhanger and does not include cheating of any sort.

——————————————-

Since this is a full length novel, I also made a graphic teaser to entice you…

Bachelor Graphic Teaser

 Yeah, my cover designs are a wee bit better than my graphic teasers.  Eh.  

Moving right along to book # 2….

Quarantine Quickie…

Q Quarantine Quickie Cover

Link:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B086JC6DCB

Blurb:  Gas station clerk Ava was trying her best to survive the pandemic known as Covid-19, when two strangers abruptly turned her world upside down.

Nick, a doctor on a vital mission, needed to focus on the task at hand and not allow himself to get distracted by a woman. However, his fellow soldier, Gunner, had other ideas.

I mean, really, what’s the point of surviving an apocalypse if you can’t have a little fun in the process?

Author’s note: We’re all getting a bit stir-crazy due to the Coronavirus Pandemic of 2020, so I figured a hot little short story might be a much needed distraction. After all, what’s more sizzling than a first time MFM ménage romance between strangers? Enjoy the ride… and stay safe out there!

 ————————————————–

That’s about all that’s new with me.  Stay healthy, stay safe, and don’t be in too big of a hurry to open the world up just yet.  I’m of the ‘better safe than sorry’ mindset.  Take care until next time… and please feel free to share any strawberry growing advice.

Sincerely,

Team Tulip & Onion

Amazon Free Promo Results May 2020

Hello everyone!  I recently offered one of my most popular books, Her Invisible Soldier, for FREE on Amazon.  For those of you authors enrolled in KDP, Amazon lets you use some free days once every three months in order to promote your book.  If you’re thinking, “Why do I want to give my book away for free?  That’s crazy,” then you’re in good company.  I used to be of that same mindset until I tried it.  This is actually my third go round with the free days and I’ve had pretty good results.

Ready for some numbers?  Of course you are!

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though.  I set up my free promo to run from April 28, 2020 until May 1, 2020.  Amazon lets you use more days, but I only wanted to have it free for FOUR DAYS.  In the past, I’ve done it for five days, but that seemed like too many if you’re not going to spend money to have it in newsletters every single day.

I signed up for a promotion in Freebooksy on Wednesday April 29 for a cost of $100.  I also signed up for a promotion in Book Raid on Thursday April 30 for a cost of $20. (I believe they’ve since raised the price to $30, so I squeaked by just in time).  Since I’m a member of the Story Origin newsletter swap site, I arranged five free newsletter swaps with other authors.  They feature me in their newsletter, and I put them in mine.  Winner, winner chicken dinner.  Just for the heck of it, I went to the Ask David website and used their free book promotion sign up tool in an effort to get my book more eyes through the websites that are free to promote your free books.  Since it’s free, it doesn’t hurt to try, right?  Absolutely.

Don’t forget to make a graphic teaser to post online and have your newsletter all ready to send.

Now that we’re all set for the promo, I wrote down some numbers.

As of Monday night on April 27 (the day before my promo went live), I checked my book’s rank.  It was ranked 488,851 in the kindle store paid books, 7816 in multicultural romance, 744 in Asian American Literature and Fiction, and 399 in Asian American Literature Kindle books.  (My book is a military romance with an Asian female heroine.)  The book had come out in 2018 and had 44 reviews (81% 5 star, 14% 4 star, 5% 3 star, no two star or one star reviews).

Goals:  give away more books than ever before and have a higher rank than ever before.  Previous results:  First Free Promo featured my book  Ungranted Wishes – 4135 copies given away.  Second Free Promo featured my book Mowed – 6022 copies given away, highest rank achieved in free store was #33.

DAY ONE

I always wake up in a panic with worry that Amazon will have a glitch and not make the book priced FREE.  After double checking that it was indeed free, I checked to see how it was doing.  With no promo, I’d already given away 8 copies.  Cool.  I then one-clicked on the book with my own amazon account and got a copy.  It never hurts to speed up the process, right?  Absolutely.  The current Amazon rank was 521,620 in the free store, 8176 in Multicultural Romance, 791 in Asian Literature, and 423 in Asian Literature Kindle Books.  Not great, but we just started a few hours ago and it can only get better from here.

I posted my freebie to my Facebook Reader Group (roughly 71 members), my Facebook Author Page, my Facebook personal page, Kboards website, and KUForum.  I also posted in six random Facebook groups where I’m a member.  Four of them are kind of spammy “get this free book” groups that have a lot of traffic and my post will get buried.  Two of them are interactive reader groups that I hoped would get some more exposure.  I also sent out my newsletter to my 795 subscribers.  I also had three Story Origin newsletter swap authors put me in their newsletters.

All free promotions so far, all should gain me some traction without having spend one single penny.

Checked the ranks at noon.  496 free books given away.  Rank of book is still 519,089 in kindle free store.  No clue why this sucks so badly.  Amazon must not be updating their ranks accordingly or free books have gotten super competitive.  I’m perplexed.

Featured on the ‘It’s Write Now’ freebie page on their website with high visibility.  This was one of the ASK DAVID free sites I applied for.  It’s cool that they listed my book.

Checked Amazon ranks at 1pm and they finally appear to have caught up to reality.  I’ve given away 571 free books and I’m ranked #256 in the free store, #5 in multicultural romance, #1 in Asian Literature, and #4 in Military romance.  This is much, much better and I can finally relax a little.  Once you make the top 100 in the free book category ranks, you get a shit ton of visibility and people that check the free books will click on yours because of the exposure it has.

A lot of my facebook friends were kind enough to share my freebie with their facebook friends and that really helped.  Thank you facebook friends!

Out of nowhere the book began to start flying off the proverbial shelves and I could NOT figure out why.  Of my 795 newsletter subscribers, only 86 clicked on the free book.  Seven people felt like that offer stunk up their lives, because they unsubscribed completely.  I’ll never, for the life of me, understand newsletters.  If you like me enough to subscribe and open my newsletter, why wouldn’t you one click the freebie?  I can also report that of the three newsletters sent by other authors on this day, I didn’t fare much better.

Author #1, 1667 subscribers, sent 89 clicks to my book.  Author #2, 3500 subscribers, sent 51 clicks to my book, Author #3, 11,000 subscribers, sent 65 clicks to my book.  Such low click rates from such a high subscriber list is very disheartening.  This makes me rethink the whole newsletter swap program entirely.  (Let me also note that these authors are romance writers in genres similar to mine.)

As the day progressed, I got a message from a friend on Facebook.  She just so happened to do me a GIGANTIC favor and snuck my freebie into the Love Kissed book newsletter.  Holy shit!  That would explain why I got so many clicks in one day and why my freebie took off so well, because it certainly wasn’t from the newsletters.  NOTE TO SELF:  Next time you do a freebie, make sure you get in the LOVE KISSED newsletter.  I think it costs $20 and it would have been worth every penny.

END OF DAY RESULTS:  1360 free books given away, 135 KENP (kindle edition pages read… all my books are in the kindle unlimited program where I get paid for page reads), 2 sold books (both 99 cent books).

Not bad for the first day with no paid promos.

DAY TWO

7am morning rank:  #134 in entire kindle free store.  #1 Asian Literature, #5 Interracial Romance, #10 military romance.

Today was going to be the most exciting day because I paid $100 to be in the freebooksy newsletter.  Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, gets results likes freebooksy.  Okay, possibly Bookbub is legendary but I’ve never been able to get a promo from them and I gave up trying because it would cost me in the $400 – $500 dollar range and that freaks me out.  This was my second time using freebooksy and I had high hopes.

Freebooksy featured me in their 8:30 am newsletter.  I was 6th down out of 7 books in the newsletter.

Bookzio was another site to feature me (part of the ASK DAVID promotions) and I was halfway down the page.

By noon I had given away 2114 free books and was #44 ranked in the entire free store, #1 Interracial, #1 Asian literature, #5 military romance.

Story Origin newsletter swaps with other authors today:  Author number 4, 7813 subscribers, sent 32 clicks to my book.  Author number 5, 1538 subscribers, sent 8 clicks to my book.  Totally underwhelming, but by this time I was not expecting anything from the newsletter swaps.

By the end of the day I’d given away 4430 free books and had 937 KENP of pages read.  Sold ZERO books.  So, basically money is flying out and not much is coming back.  Yeesh.

Day Three

Morning rank   #28 in entire Amazon Kindle Free Store.  PREVIOUS HIGH RANK RECORD BROKEN.  Ba-boom!  This is how we do it… la la la la la la.

Bookraid featured me in their newsletter in the second slot down at noon.  This newsletter cost me $20 and I’d had good results with them the previous two times I’d purchased a slot in their newsletter.

One person asked to join my Facebook reader group as a result of them downloading and enjoying my free book.  Sweet!

End of day:  1186 free books given away.  2850 KENP kindle book pages read, other paid books sold – ZERO.

Before you get excited thinking that the book raid promo scored me 1186 downloads, let me suck you right back to reality.  Since yesterday was the Freebooksy promo, some people don’t open the newsletter on the same day and I’m quite sure I can contribute some of today’s clicks to yesterday’s promo.  Therefore, the book raid promo didn’t deliver quite like it used to.

Day Four

On the last day I usually have no paid promo, I just coast and let nature take its course.  The rank slowly gets higher as I sink back into oblivion.  I did have one last Story Origin newsletter swap today.  Author #6, 6091 subscribers- 193 clicks sent to my free book.

End of day:  1173 free books given away.  2477 KENP kindle book pages read, other paid books sold: 2 (one at $2.99 and one at 99 cents)

Rank was #73 free in kindle free store, #1 in Asian Literature, #4 in Interracial, #5 in military romance.

TOTALS AFTER PROMO:

Total free books given away:  8116 (achieved my goal and gave away more freebies than ever before and also reached highest ever rank in free store.  Missions accomplished.

Total new readers to join my Facebook reader group:  4

Total new reviews received on Amazon since promo:  3 (one five star, one four star, one three star who generously said that the book was not as bad as she expected it to be.  Thank you very much!)

Total New Newsletter subscribers:  1

Total clicks from Bookraid:  669            Total clicks from Freebooksy:  4475

I suppose I don’t feel like the promo was as profitable monetarily as the free promos have been in the past.  It’s hard to tell because I had a new release go out a few days after my free promo ended, and that generated a solid amount of revenue unrelated to the free promo.

Also, the total clicks from bookraid has definitely gone DOWN over the years.  My first promo with them generated 937 clicks, the second promo generated 860, and this one generated 669.  These are all separate books and the promos were in 2018, 2019, and 2020.  Since these numbers are going in the wrong direction, I would probably not utilize their services again.

In conclusion, I might skip a year of having a freebie.  I’m not sure yet.  I would definitely save a lot of time and only go with Love Kissed, Freebooksy, It’s Write Now, and Bookzio.  I would probably still do the newsletter swaps even though they are usually a let down every single time and I lecture myself not to repeat past mistakes.

Thank you for reading and I hope my experience can help you in the future!

Grace

 

 

Best and worst vacation ever!

Hello, everyone.  Right now the odds are pretty high that you’re stuck at home and getting a little stir crazy.  Maybe taking a few minutes to read my newsletter/blog post will give you a short diversion.  That’s my goal.  We all need something to take our minds off the current apocalypse we’re facing.

My boss told me to quit calling it ‘the apocalypse,’ but since the world has become batshit crazy, I figure I can do what I want.

Anyway, the original blog post I planned to write today involved a funny vacation story.  Since it seems pointless to blog about something frivolous, I’m going to scale back the original idea and morph it into something on a grander scale.

That being said, I bring you… my diary of the apocalypse.

December to February, 2020:  As you are already well aware, Coronavirus sprang up in Wuhan, China and slowly began infecting the world.  At first no one really seemed to take it seriously, only freaking out when the toilet paper started disappearing off the shelves.

Yes, I just had to add ‘Coronavirus’ to my Microsoft Word dictionary because it was an unrecognized word.  I’m not sure why some people call it ‘Covid 19’ and some people call it ‘Coronavirus.’  Covid 19 sounds like a music festival and not an infectious disease, so I’m not going to use that terminology.  I’m also not going to call it the ‘China Virus’ like some dumbass at the White House who shall remain nameless.  It could have just as easily started anywhere in the world.  My husband likes to watch National Geographic and the History Channel and one program said that a drop of seawater contains millions of viruses and bacteria.  So we’re probably lucky this hasn’t happened sooner.

March, 2020:  This is where shit gets real.  Since today is only March 25 and the whole month has been one giant clusterfuck, we’re going to break it down on a day to day basis here.

Guess what?  I planned to take a vacation from March 8 to the 14th.  Let me explain that this is the first vacation I’ve taken since 2018 and I was desperately looking forward to waving goodbye to my coworkers and getting a much needed break from the daily grind.  (I have a full-time administrative job that pays the bills… I only ‘author’ when inspiration strikes.  As much as I would love, love, LOVE to be a full time writer, it’s not monetarily feasible.  This is not a complaint, just a simple fact.)

So… let me also explain that I have anxiety issues, am a germaphobe, and am very adverse to change.  I’m also insanely thrifty and… on the whole… kinda paranoid.  My husband, however, is pretty normal.  We balance each other out quite well.

Moving right along… I checked the internet the day before I was to leave on vacation.  Top google news item on the home page?  ‘First Coronavirus Death Hits the East Coast… Lee County… Florida.”

If you correctly guessed that my vacation destination was Lee County, Florida, please give yourself a pat on the back and one million bonus points.

I read the news article, read it again, and shook my head at the awesome luck sent from the universe.  What are the fucking odds?  Ugh.

Being sort of paranoid and an avid reader of post-apocalyptic fiction (zombies!), I knew that the odds of the pandemic exploding in a week were pretty slim.  I figured I’d be safe.  (SPOILER ALERT: Yeah, I was right.  As I type this out, I’m currently fine.  I don’t want anyone freaking and thinking, “ARGH!  She has the virus!  Poor Grace!”  I’m sure that could change, because circumstances literally change by the hour regarding what states are closed, who’s allowed to work, etc.  Fingers crossed and God willing I stay healthy.)

So I went on vacation, much to my mother’s absolute shock and horror.  I went to an airport! I flew on a plane!  I exposed myself to germs!  Honestly, I flew small airports and only saw one person with a mask both on departure and arrival.  This relaxed me a wee bit.

So we arrived safely in Florida and went to the grocery store to stock up on necessities for the week.  This means bottled water, orange juice (place had a fridge), and snacks.  Obviously the store had no hand sanitizer and no toilet paper.  Luxury items in 2019 included designer clothes, expensive perfume, and all that other fancy shit I never bought.  Luxury in 2020 seems to involve (1) having toilet paper, (2) having hand sanitizer, and (3) having a job.  My how times have changed in the blink of an eye.

Day one of my vacation:  went to the beach, found amazing seashells, took a boat ride and saw a dolphin jumping literally ten feet away from me.  It was beautiful, I got teary at the splendor of nature, and my husband got a video on his camera because his reaction time to important events is way better than mine.  Best vacation ever!

Day two of my vacation:  rented a kayak, paddled around in shallow water where I had no risk of death or getting eaten by a shark, ate delicious BBQ for supper.  All is right with the world.

Days three to five of my vacation:  fed up with (1) Florida traffic, (2) gigantic cockroaches and millipedes at my vacation rental, (3) multiple daily phone calls from my mom and stepson warning that the world was turning to shit and I better get the fuck home.

Let’s fast forward to the day before I came home.  By now, the nightly TV news is freaking me out, the vacation rental is down to 2/3 of a roll of toilet paper remaining (we got 2 1/3 to start with), and I’m having bodily fluid issues.  Is it okay if I’m specific here?  Will a bit of TMI freak you out?  Under normal circumstances, I’d try to be classy and hold back, but this knowledge is vital to the one story that I wanted to tell (and originally intended to focus the whole blog post around).

Fact:  My digestive system shuts down on vacation and food goes in but does not come out.  On days three and four of the vacation, I was down to eating fruit, raisins, and peanut butter due to lack of appetite for anything else.

Fact #2:  I happen to be a female member of the human species and, without fail, my monthly curse always arrives when I’m on vacation.  Ah, the joys of womanhood.

Let’s recap… it’s now the day before I come home, the rental unit has 2/3 of a roll of toilet paper, my digestive system decided to work again, and it’s day two of my special girlie issues.  I go to the grocery store.  There is no toilet paper.  There is no Kleenex.  I stared at the two remaining packages of napkins, grabbed one, and felt tears well up.  By the time we’d made it to the parking lot of the store, tears were falling freely and my husband realized, without a doubt, he’d married an insane moron.

I mean… he probably knew this already, but this action just confirmed his suspicions.  Our conversation:

Him:  What is the matter with you?”

Me:  I’m on vacation but I can’t enjoy myself because the world is crumbling around us, I have my period, the store is out of toilet paper, and all my supplies are two thousand miles away!  Worst Vacation Ever!

He then informed me that was an exaggeration and we weren’t that many miles from home.  He also told me that I had napkins, so it wasn’t totally dire.

While this seemed like an amusing anecdote to share in a blog post, things have gotten way more unbelievable in the past two weeks and it no longer really matters.  However, I wanted to slip it in anyway.

Moving right along… the toilet paper miraculously lasted us until we left, the flight was delayed but ended up arriving home eventually, and I landed back on familiar soil.

The first thing I did was make a bunch of phone calls to see how bad the situation really was since my mom sometimes exaggerates.  I was told to go to the store and find out for myself.

Holy shit.

One grocery store looked like it was going out of business.  I saw two men in their thirties pushing a full shopping cart.  One said to the other, “Should we buy a box of brownies?  It could be the last brownies we ever eat!”

Since they were on sale, I decided to give my opinion on the matter.

“Get the brownies, dude.  It’s the apocalypse.”

He nodded his head and threw them in the cart.

Thankfully, the grocery store had large signs rationing water, toilet paper, pasta, and rice.  I think EVERY store should have started doing that once the shit hit the fan.  No one needs to go out and hoard fifteen packages of toilet paper.  Save some for the rest of us.  I’m not saying you can’t buy two or three of something, but anything over that is getting greedy.

The next day, I went to wal-mart.  Yeah, right.  This was picked over worse than the grocery store!  I haven’t been back since, because why bother?

Let’s time jump once again to this week.  Coronavirus cases are multiplying in New York faster than… well… I was going to say, ‘Faster than rabbits breed,’ but it’s much faster than even that.  Ah.  Okay.  Coronavirus cases are spreading in New York faster than false information is spreading on Facebook.  I’ve heard so many untrue tidbits in the last couple weeks, it’s fucking insane.  It’s gotten to the point that people don’t believe anything anymore.

For what it’s worth… I think the whole country should shut down like in South Africa and India, ground the fucking planes so the hot spots in the country don’t spread the virus to other places, and people need to start taking this shit  seriously.

I’m not going to tell you where I work, but we had a customer that traveled to a hot spot (Washington State) and is supposed to be ‘self-quarantining.’  His idea of self-quarantining is to stay away from his family, get a hotel, and go on about his normal business.

Did I freak out and try and wipe down everything he touched?  Yes.  Did I wish I could quit my job on the spot and be agoraphobic the rest of my life?  Absolutely.  Will my husband let me be a stay-at-home wife?  Sadly, no.

It seems that the majority of people fall into two categories:  Those who give a shit and those who don’t.

For those who want to lock their doors forever, surround themselves with tubs of Lysol wipes, and hand sanitize until their skin falls off… you are my people.

For those of you who feel this is all overblown and we’ll be fine… please social distance yourself from my husband, because he is way too calm about this whole situation.

The only thing keeping me sane right now are the funny memes online that make me laugh.

choose your own adventure

I guess, the uncertainty of everything is what really bothers me.  Both my job and my husband’s job toe the line of what is considered an ‘essential service.’  Literally his job called him three times to say, “We’re open.  We’re closed.  No, we’re open.”  Every day we have no clue if we’ll be out of work or not.  Yes, we live in one of the many states that’s on lockdown.  But, if all the states don’t agree and take the same measures, this is an effort in futility.

There’s really not much more to say except a few closing points.

THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART to all the people putting their life on the line every day to do their job.  Doctors, nurses, anyone in a hospital/medical setting from the cafeteria staff to the janitors to the front desk clerks putting themselves at risk.  Truck drivers, delivery people, grocery store employees, warehouse employees, and anyone working in the supply chain that keeps the country running.  Policemen, firemen, EMS first responders, military, and security people who keep peace on the streets and are ready to jump in when duty calls.  Kind, generous people helping their neighbors and not hoarding stuff like giant dicks.  And anyone else I forgot that I should be thanking.

Basically, just try to take life one day at a time, one hour at a time, and don’t lose hope.  Things will get better.  They have to.

Just maybe… sometimes you have to remind your husband that he married you for better or worse… and that you’re sick and tired of him incessantly bring up a few necessary crying fits when you can’t find toilet paper at a crucial moment.

Him:  How are you going to survive the zombie apocalypse you’ve been talking about for decades when you lose your shit over the lack of toilet paper at the store?

Me:  I didn’t know the apocalypse would suck so bad.

Him:  Adapt, improvise, overcome.

Me:  Fuck off.

There you have it, folks.  Stay safe, stay sane, and feel free to reply to this newsletter post and let me know what’s going on in your neck of the woods.  It’s a jungle out there!  Also, feel free to share your best Coronapocalypse memes.  We could all use a good laugh right now.

Grace

Me and My Cosmic Experiment…

If you’re reading the topic of this blog post, chances are high that a wide range of thoughts are currently running through your head…

–Who is this ‘Grace Risata’ person?  She hasn’t done a blog post in months and has seemingly dropped off the face of the Earth.  Does her ‘cosmic experiment’ have something to do with wormholes and the space-time continuum?

–What the hell is a cosmic experiment?  Did she build a spaceship and travel to a planet full of exotic alien men in order to get inspiration for a series of new erotic interplanetary romance novels?

–Shouldn’t it be ‘My Cosmic Experiment and I?’  Did the supposed writer forget grammar in the time she’s been off gallivanting instead of writing books?

–Is this bizarre topic some form of click bait designed to get me to read her newsletter and she really didn’t have any cosmic experiment at all?

So many questions, so little time!  Let’s dive in, shall we?

No, I’m not dead.  I took a break for the holidays and got lazy during that time.  I abandoned author takeovers, blog posts, interacting with society, and pretty much all the little things writers are supposed to do to sell books.  Instead, I focused on building the Gingerbread House Lego Kit I got for Christmas and generally slacked off entirely.

(In case you were wondering, it took me an entire day to build the Lego kit.  The damn thing had 1477 pieces and a lighted brick!  So professional!  I consider myself a Lego Expert now.)

Back to the topic at hand.

My Cosmic Experiment.

No, it doesn’t involve aliens or their mating techniques.  I’m not really a fan of those ‘Kidnapped by the Alien Warrior’ type books.  I mean, who wants to be getting down and dirty with a beast from the planet ORION X and then all of a sudden a tentacle pops out of a random place and pokes you in the you-know-where?  I’m not a fan of tentacles, extra appendages, sharp teeth, slime, or strange unfamiliar mating practices.

Yeah, I’m a prude.

Quit judging me and let’s get back to the real subject of this email.

Anything I see on television that’s new, exciting, and food-related, I have to try.  I watch the ABC evening news every night with David Muir (he’s totally sexy in a charming, smart guy kind of way and I have a major crush on him.)  Anyway, my husband and I saw a story on a new apple a few months ago.

The Cosmic Crisp Apple.

This bad boy is a relative of the Honey Crisp Apple, but it’s jacked up beyond belief.  The super fruit has been in the works for TWENTY YEARS and growers in Washington have been raving about the thing like it’s magic.  Supposedly it tastes amazing, is super sweet, is the cross between an Enterprise and a Honey Crisp, is NOT genetically modified, and … get this… lasts for up to a year when refrigerated!

apple

Naturally I had to have it.  I love apple juice, love apple sauce, and like Honey Crisp apples.  My husband and I were at the grocery store last weekend and walked past the fruit section.  I saw the display for the NEW COSMIC CRISP APPLE at the low, low price of $3.99 per pound.

I gasped and pointed, not at the price but at the actual apple.  I’m as cheap as they come, which you would know if you’ve been reading my posts, but when it comes to trying new peanut butter, new cereal, or new food in general, price is of no concern.  Let those dollars fly away at the speed of light.

I told him we should get two apples and try them.  Since he’s probably cheaper than I am, my husband said we should only get one apple and share it.  Yes, we’re soul mates on the cheapness aspect of life.  I love him dearly.

Later that night I had a serious internal debate over whether to eat the apple or have some cake that wasn’t getting any younger sitting in my fridge.  (The cake was a pineapple dump cake and kind of raw in the middle, so that pushed me over the edge into my final decision.)

I peeled off the sticker, washed the $2 apple (that thing was big and heavy!), and sliced it into eight pieces with my fancy, handy dandy apple slicer.

In a flashback of Adam and Eve, I gave my husband the first piece and then sat down to eat the rest.

His  opinion?

“It tastes like a Honey Crisp.  I don’t think it’s anything special.”

Okay.  My turn.

The first piece was instantly sweet and then a burst of tart flavor hit my tongue.  The second piece was only tart and sour.  The third slice?  That’s where it gets interesting.

Upon biting into the third slice of this apple, I got a flavorful burst of juice that reminded me of poison.

No, I’ve never drank poison just for kicks, however, if poison had a taste, it would be this flavor.  You know, like the gross aftertaste of a brussel sprout.

Anyway, I had another internal debate of whether I should keep eating.  No sane human being would continue to eat something that reminded them of poison, but I’m kinda special.

Two more bites of the poison apple slice and I had to spit it out and give the remaining four slices to my husband.

That’s probably rude to make him eat something that I find gross, but the apple was really expensive and I’m not a food waster.

Yes, I had flashbacks of Eve forcing Adam to eat the apple.  Maybe she didn’t force him, but rather reminded him that apples were expensive and money didn’t grow on trees but apples did.

Yes, my mind also conjured images of Romeo and Juliet.  If one was going to die by poison, then the other should probably also perish.  True love can be a pain in the ass and end up getting you killed.  If I was going to suffer the consequences of my cosmic apple, then who better to join me in Heaven than my husband?  I’d be lonely without him.

Third and final thought to enter my brain?

Ah, yes.  Aside from Adam & Eve and Romeo & Juliet, who is the most important literary figure when it comes to poison and apples?

If you said, “That witch from snow white who scares Grace every single time she rides the snow white ride in Disneyworld,” then give yourself ten million bonus points.

(No, we’re not keeping score and no, you can’t trade your bonus points for fabulous prizes.  This is symbolic only.)

Thankfully, no wicked witch jumped out and said, “Have an apple, my pretty,” no handsome prince offered to take me back to his castle and save me, and I didn’t die from the apple.

I guess all’s well that ends well.

There you have it folks.

Hopefully you’ve all had safe, healthy, and happy holidays and the year 2020 is getting off to a great start for you.  I’m currently in the process of writing Carla’s story and getting her love square resolved.  (I’m on chapter eighteen and have about 54,000 words banged out.  Speaking of banged out, Carla has already made her choice and the relationship has been consummated, much to the spunky woman’s utter bliss.)

Til next time…  watch out for witches and apples!

Grace

P.S.  My intent was not to disparage the Cosmic Crisp Apple or the bustling apple growing industry in Washington State.  In all honesty, there are a lot of foods I don’t like that normal people probably enjoy.  I hate squash, sweet potatoes, and I don’t drink root beer.  Tacos make me throw up, and I can’t stand anything banana-flavored.  I’m sure there’s more, but those are the main offenders off the top of my head.

Oooh… big news!

Hello everyone!

I hope this newsletter finds you healthy and enjoying the first few days of autumn.  I am not healthy because a few co-workers decided to come to work and share their toxic cold germs.  Therefore life currently finds me moaning on the couch with a fever of 99.5 while my husband is left to wonder why he married such a total whiner baby.

I can’t help it.  Hypochondria runs in my family.  It’s hereditary.

But I digress.

The sole purpose of today’s correspondence is to tell you about my newest literary creation.

Yeah, baby.  You read that correctly!  I’ve put my nose to the grindstone and slaved away on a new story.  Obviously you have questions about this project, so I will be happy answer them for you!

Q:  What did you come up with now?

A:  My new book is a full length novel (97,000 words) titled ‘The Reluctant Gigolo.’

Q:  Ooh, sounds interesting.  What is it about?  You got a blurb?  Sell it to me, girl!

A:  I do indeed have a blurb.  Actually the blurb came to me one night at roughly three in the morning, so I jumped out of bed and wrote it down.  When I need to figure stuff out, I let it simmer in my brain for a while and hope something good pops up when I least expect it.  Here’s the blurb:

It’s been said that love sneaks up on you when it’s least expected.

Whoever came up with that phrase was spot on in my case.  After being stood up by a blind date, I accidentally met the man of my dreams.

The only issue?

He’s a former male escort… an ex-gigolo… a retired prostitute… a… well… you get the picture.

Complicating matters is my socially awkward best friend and partner in crime, my overprotective obnoxious brother who does not approve of my budding relationship, and a few other major players that do their part to stir the pot.

With the deck stacked against us, what’s it going to take to find my happily ever after?

This story is a full length 97,000 word comedy romance intended to make you swoon, crack a smile, and dive right into the lives of my fictional characters.  

Q:  And where did you get the idea for this crazy story?

A:  Not a damn thing was on television, so I flicked aimlessly through the channels until stumbling upon old episodes of the Showtime series ‘Gigolos.’ Naturally my husband walked into the room and gave me a disapproving glance.  He thinks I watch absolute shit about 90% of the time.  About all we’re compatible with for television programs are those house hunter shows and Bill Maher on HBO.  Otherwise, I’m addicted to all the 90 Day Fiance shows and he likes the ‘Alien Encounter’ or FBI conspiracy or history channel war shows.

But I digress.  Was I going somewhere with all this?  Sorry.  I’m still running a slight fever, so you should be glad I can string together words that are making sense right now.

Anyway, I watched the Gigolo show and thought, “What happens after they retire?  What comes next?”  My new story is my version of the answer to that.

Q:  You got a cover for this book?

A:  Hells yeah, and I did it all by myself!

Reluctant Gigolo Final Cover

Q:  You got a buy link or is this sucker gonna magically show up on my kindle?

A:  The book is on Amazon for $2.99 to buy or you can read it for FREE if you’re part of the kindle unlimited program.  Here are the links:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07Y2LJTF6 (United States)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07Y2LJTF6 (United Kingdom)

https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07Y2LJTF6 (Canada)

https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07Y2LJTF6 (Australia)

If you live in a country that’s not one of these (Italy?  Mexico?) then I apologize for not including your link.

Q:  I’m not totally convinced that I should be spending three of my hard-earned dollars on your word vomit.  Can you share an excerpt, please?

A:  Sure!  But only because you asked nicely…

[this is from chapter one when my main lady walks into a diner to meet her blind date…]

I pulled out my phone to check the text and, speak of the devil, there was a message from my best friend Carla.

How’s the date?  Is he cute?  Do I have to rescue you?  Is he creepy or hot as fuck?  Are you still alive or has he lured you back to his dungeon?  Take a picture of him for me… you know… like be stealthy about it.”

I rolled my eyes while plopping into a nearby booth and began typing a reply.

He’s not here yet.  It’s only ten after eight, so I’m just chilling at the restaurant while I wait.”

How old is this jerk-off?  A gentleman never makes a lady wait.  You’re thirty-five.  Your eggs are drying up.  You don’t have time for this shit!”

Really?  Carla lives with her mother in the same house she grew up in, along with a menagerie of three birds, two cats, and a flatulent rabbit named ‘Gomer.’  If anyone’s body parts are drying up from lack of use, it’s hers.

“Thanks for the pep talk.  Maybe he hit traffic?”

“He can’t call?  His phone ran out of battery?  I’d cut and run.  You never should have agreed to this date in the first place.  It’s a bad idea to mix business and pleasure.”

The sound of the bell jingling as someone walked into the restaurant instantly drew my attention away from the text screen.  Since I was seated facing the door, I had a great view as the man entered and promptly took the very first booth by the entrance, which happened to be right next to mine.

The newcomer tossed a briefcase on the table, slid into the seat with his back to the door, and waved to the waitress.

“Hi, Rosie.  I’ll have the usual, but add a strong cup of coffee and keep them coming.  I’m studying for an important exam.”

I stared at the guy while sizing him up.  He was dressed in black pants, white button down shirt slightly rolled up at the wrists to expose tan skin, black glasses that gave him a nerdy professor look, and topped off with a red baseball cap tightly perched atop his head.  He appeared to be in his mid to late thirties, so I was curious as to what exam he might be taking.

Nothing about him screamed, “I am Rudy, your date,” but I decided to ask anyway.

“Um… excuse me, sir, but your name wouldn’t be ‘Rudy’ by chance, would it?” I asked shyly, half hiding my face behind the large plastic menu.

The man turned his attention on me and quickly shook his head.

“No.  You have me confused with someone else,” he insisted coldly, pulling the hat down in an effort to conceal his identity as though part of the witness protection program.  “A lot of people mistake me for other people.  I look familiar.”

Huh?  Who mistakes people for other people?  Well, one random stranger sharing an elevator ride once told me I looked like Chelsea Clinton, but I don’t consider that a compliment.  The lady meant that I reminded her of the frizzy-haired girl who hadn’t yet transformed from an awkward adolescent into a polished adult.  My large ski slope nose didn’t help matters in the slightest.

But I digress.

“I didn’t mean that you looked familiar,” I explained patiently, somehow feeling the need to elaborate.  “I’m supposed to meet someone here and I don’t know what he looks like.”

“It’s not me.”

“Yeah, I figured that out, thanks.  You’re not wearing tan pants, a blue blazer, or holding a rose.”

This confession suddenly piqued his interest, because the man’s lip turned up in amusement.

“Don’t tell me… a blind date?  You met on a matchmaker app and hope to fall in love at first sight?”

“No,” I sighed, glancing at the time on my phone and realizing Rudy was now fifteen minutes late.  “It was a set up.  A co-worker of my client.  I think love at first sight is out of the question at this point.  I can’t handle tardiness.”

“Let me give you a little bit of advice,” he offered.  “Any man that invites you to a dive like this and then doesn’t have the decency to show up on time… he’s not a great catch by any means.”

“How did you know he’s the one that picked the place?”

“I come here all the time and I’ve never seen you before.  You would have chosen a place that you’re familiar with for a first meeting.”

Wow.  He was rather intuitive.

Not willing to admit that I felt like a complete loser or that I’d potentially been stood up, I sullenly examined the menu.  The night wasn’t getting any younger and my stomach was growling.

Another ten minutes passed, no word from Rudy, four texts from Carla, and the situation was beginning to bother me.  It didn’t help matters when the mysterious stranger’s food arrived smelling like Heaven on a plate.  He saw me ogling a particularly long French fry on the way to his mouth, and shook his head at me.

“What time was Mr. Right supposed to show up?”

“Eight o’clock.”

“What time is it now?”

“Almost eight thirty.”

“What are the excuses he keeps texting you?” he asked, obviously hearing all the dings from Carla’s messages and assuming they were from my missing date.

“That’s not him.  It’s my best friend checking up on me.”

“Why do you keep frowning at the phone instead of replying to her?  Good friends that genuinely care are hard to find.”

“Why do you keep spying on my business?” I retorted, surprised that he was paying any attention to the pitiful lady that had been abandoned by her date.

“Because I would like to eat my meal in peace without looking up to see you drooling over my food,” he admitted suavely, raising an eyebrow as though daring me to deny that’s exactly what I was doing.  “Rosie, can you please come over here and take her order?  Her date isn’t going to show up and the poor thing is about to starve to death.”

——————–END OF EXCERPT—————-

Q:  Well, you definitely have me intrigued.  Anything else we should know?

A:  Nope, I think that about covers it.  I made some graphic teasers last week before I was stricken ill with my cold.  You want to see those?

gigolo teaser two

gigolo teaser one

That’s all we have for today, folks.  Have a wonderful day and STAY HEALTHY!  Til next time….

Grace

Birthday News and Stories!

Hello Everyone!

It’s been ages since my last newsletter/blog post because I’ve been busy enjoying summer, and hopefully you have too!  Today we have two topics to cover and both involve my birthday!!!!

Topic #1 – Birthday present for me.  My husband asked me what I want for my birthday and I had no idea what to answer.  If you’ve been following along, you already know that I’m a total hoarder who doesn’t need any more crap.  Also, last year some of my presents involved a box with 24 deodorants and 3 bottles of perfume.  Yes, we buy in bulk.  Yes, I’m fully stocked for the apocalypse and won’t stink when the zombies come to get me.  Anyway, I don’t need physical presents so I told my husband that I want an experience.  We don’t usually do fun stuff, so I wanted a day of adventure.  Did I get it?  Hell yeah, baby!  We went to the zoo!

I love animals and thought this would be the perfect experience.  It really was and we had a great time.  I took a bunch of pictures and pretended I was ‘Grace Risata:  Nature Photographer.’  There are some gems such as ‘Pissing Bear,’ ‘Giraffe Chewing on Something,’ and ‘Blurry Fish.’  My camera has a lot of different settings and I don’t know how to use them so I just click away until I get a picture that’s not totally blurry.

I learned that Ostriches are super tall, elephants are not as large as I thought they would be, the big cats don’t do much but sleep, monkeys seem depressed in captivity, and bears are extremely entertaining.  Evidently my husband was most impressed with the hippos.

Me:  Hippos just waddle around and don’t do anything.  I bet they get eaten.

Him:  No!  Hippos are badass.

Okay.  I’ll have to take his word for it.  If you ask me, gophers are pretty badass.  We saw a small outside enclosure with two little monkeys (the kind with long tails that swing from trees, not the gorillas) and they were just hanging around.  Anyway, two gophers ran into their area and started eating the food.  One little gopher munched on an orange slice just as happy as could be.  All of a sudden the monkey swooped down and hissed at the gopher to say, “Quit eating my food, you asshole!”  I expected the gopher to have a heart attack, but he just dropped the orange and scampered off at his own pace, like, “Who’s in the cage and who’s running free, dumbass?!”

Let’s fast forward to the new episodes of ‘Serengeti’ on the Discovery Channel.  Most of the animals I just saw in the zoo were now running wild on the Serengeti Plain.  Do you know what happens when animals run wild on the Serengeti Plain?  Yes, they eat each other.  My loyalty flip-flopped faster than the fan of a losing sports team.

Me to the TV:  “Run, monkey!  Don’t let that fucking gator eat you and your baby!”

Me to the TV two minutes later:  “What the fuck?  Run, gator!  Don’t let that fucking monkey steal the eggs out of your nest and eat them!”

Me to my husband:  “Why can’t they just eat potato chips like I am and quit killing each other like savages?”

His reply:  “They don’t have chips on the Serengeti Plain.  It’s kill or be killed.”

He refused to change the channel and I had to go in the other room and tell the dog she was not allowed to go in the other room because some bad shit was going down on the television.

And that is the story of my birthday experience.

But wait, there’s more!

Topic #2: Birthday bargains for everyone!  I’m all about sharing and spreading the love for my birthday, so from August 21 to August 28 each and every single one of my books (there are 12, I counted) is on sale at the low, low price of only 99 cents.

99 cent sale

That’s right.  ALL OF THEM.

Her Invisible Soldier?  321 pages of military romance with Alyce and Dixon…. One of my personal favorites…. Never, ever less than $2.99….now yours for only 99 cents!

My Dirty Detour?  430 pages of alpha male mafia comedy romance with not one, not two, but THREE sexy leading men….the first book I ever wrote and sort of auto biographical in a few parts…now yours for only 99 cents!

This is NOT a Double Date?  My newest release with the weirdo cover that has no people on it?  Yeah, baby.  Only 99 cents!

So, take advantage of this great deal now and one-click to your hearts’ content.

https://www.amazon.com/Grace-Risata/e/B01AUXMZAO

Have a wonderful day, thanks for reading, and…

Oh.

One more thing.

In case you weren’t aware, I have a Facebook reader group and we’re having a weeklong party in celebration of my birthday.  There’s games, prizes, and general mayhem.  If you’re interested, please feel free to join!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/215569562397149

That’s all for today.

Until next time….

Grace ‘Birthday Girl’ Risata