Have I got a story for you…

Hello everyone!  I hope this newsletter/email finds you smack dab in the middle of summer and enjoying every second of it.  The weather has just started to turn warm and my cucumber plants look like they’re not going to yield a damn thing, but I digress.  The topic of today’s post involves a majorly exciting announcement.

Relax… no one is retiring, no one is pregnant, and no one bought a winning lottery ticket.

Okay, let me rephrase that.  It’s a mildly exciting announcement.

I wracked my brain trying to come up with a cool story for this newsletter… to be followed up by the big reveal of my exciting news.  But I can’t come up with a single thought-provoking topic for a blog post.  I guess my life has been boring lately?

We’re not taking a vacation this year, I haven’t failed spectacularly on any new recipes, haven’t done anything klutzy requiring medical attention, and haven’t accidentally stumbled upon the Ark of the Covenant or any other phenomenal archeological find.

Basically, all the excitement in my life comes from the imaginary characters floating around in my brain.  Speaking of my literary creations…drum roll for the big announcement…

A book that I wrote, one of my top favorites actually, is FREE ON AMAZON from Tuesday, June 25 through Saturday, June 29

mowed-cover-3

‘Mowed: An Erotic BBW Comedy Romance’ is absolutely FREE on Amazon from June 25-29.  You just go to Amazon’s website, one-click to your heart’s content, download that baby on your kindle, and get to reading!

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01M1FJ7IL

Why should you go to that link and click my book?  Good question!

1) It’s absolutely free, so if it sucks then you’re not out any hard earned cash.

2) It’s the best-selling, highest ranked, most popular, most reviewed book out of all my stories.

3) It has over eight sex scenes including ones that involve, Barbecue Sauce, Pirates, Handcuffs, and Ice Cubes.

4) It has character backstory, humor, heart-warming moments, a realistic heroine, a dominant alpha male, a happy ending, and no cliffhanger.

5) It is a full length, stand alone story.

6) I’m asking nicely for you to one-click.  Even if you got a free ARC of the book back when it first came out, even if you read it with Kindle Unlimited, click it anyway.

Why am I giving stuff away for free if I can sell it for good money?  Another great question.

1) I think there are a lot of subscribers to my newsletter/blog that haven’t had the opportunity to read any of my books.  Now you can… for free!

2) I did a free promotion with ‘Ungranted Wishes’ last year and it led to the best sales month I ever had.  I’m going for a repeat experience!

3) I get super-duper excited to check the Amazon reports and see the number skyrocket when I give books away, even if they’re free.

How can you help spread the word about this amazing opportunity?

1) Share this newsletter with your friends, your neighbors, your friends’ neighbors, and your neighbors’ friends.

2) Post the link on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pornhub, MySpace, Tinder, or where ever you like to hang out on social media.

What if you want other books that aren’t just my freebie?

I’m doing newsletter swaps with other authors, and in return they share my story with their readers.  Be sure to check out their books…

The Golden Key Chronicles: A Time Travel Romance by A.J. Nuest…only 99 cents on Amazon…

https://storyoriginapp.com/swaps/f8220a22-8e8a-11e9-b8ef-37e2973c4810

The key would unlock his future and the safety of his kingdom, but he never imagined the sorceress would unlock his heart…
When antiques restorer, Rowena Lindstrom, purchases an armoire containing a hidden key and a “magic” mirror, she believes the handsome warrior prince on the other side has to be some sort of joke. But she can’t deny they seem connected by more than just the key and, as her love for Prince Caedmon grows, she agrees to join him in his realm. Prophecy intervenes in a way neither of them could have ever expected. Lost and alone in the Austiere Kingdom, Rowena struggles to find her place, and though she fights the heated advances of the dangerous Prince Caedmon, the attraction between them brings challenges much deeper than her troubled heart can recall.

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Gamechanger: A Romantic Suspense Novel by C. J. Laurence… Free with Kindle Unlimited or $4.99 to buy on Amazon….

https://storyoriginapp.com/swaps/ce6043ba-8e22-11e9-b616-bffa99d06b0b

I had to run. I had to escape in order to survive. Not to save myself, but to protect the life growing inside me. But the devil who ripped away the last six years of my life won’t let me go that easily. I belong to him. Took a vow before God to obey him…my husband. Now I’m on the run, hiding in the shadows in fear that he’ll find me. But an unlikely hero finds me first, saving my life in the process.  When my savior offers me protection against the man determined to drag me back to hell, I need to decide if I can trust him enough to put my life, and the life of my unborn child in his hands.
Unfortunately, with a haunted past like mine, trust isn’t something I know how to do…

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That’s all I have for today.  I’ll try to live dangerously and have some wild adventures to entertain you with.  Until then… enjoy your summer, don’t get bitten by mosquitoes, and download my freebie!

Grace

P.S. Next month’s newsletter will be a Q & A with Grace…. But they won’t be questions that I ask myself…this time it’s YOUR turn.  Do you have any questions for me?  They can cover any topic you can possibly imagine.  Be creative, people.  I’ll do my best to answer.  Simply hit ‘reply’ to this email and let your questions fly away to my inbox.  I’m waiting….

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Rummage-o-Rama…

Hello!  I haven’t written any newsletter/blog posts in almost a month!  Am I being lazy?  Hell, no!  May has been a super busy month and passed by in the blink of an eye.

What have I been doing?  Well, thank you for asking!

I threw an impromptu 70th birthday party for my mom.  It involved her wearing a beauty pageant sash that read “It’s my fucking birthday” in gold sparkles.  I got my sense of humor and craziness from her, so I knew she wouldn’t be too shy to wear it…until we saw a local priest at the bar/bowling alley where we had her party and she had to cover it up and act all modest.  My mom also had to go up to the bartender and ask if she was allowed to wear the sash or if they’d kick her out.  After she was assured that her bawdy accessory was perfectly legal, she did a few tequila shots with her hairdresser to celebrate.

No, we don’t do things normal in my family.  That’s what’s so great about it!  I also got her a fantastic marble cake with raspberry filling from the grocery store.  That’s not relevant to the story, but I was fondly recollecting the event and food always pops into my head!

What else have I been up to?  Ah, yes.  The rummage sale.

rumm

If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that my husband and I are a pair of hoarders.  Does it make sense to have four potato mashers and four strainers?  Yes…because the first three might break.

Anyway, I went through the house room by room in early April and planned to have a rummage sale in May.  For whatever reason, I like to call it a ‘Rummage-o-rama’ instead of a yard sale.  It sounds more elaborate.

So I filled the garage with crap and priced it to sell.  Please understand that when I use the word ‘crap,’ I’m simply referring to stuff that we bought at estate sales and didn’t sell on ebay.  I’m talking quality merchandise here.  Clothing such as L.L. Bean pants, Nordstrom dress shirts, Suits, Igloo Coolers, shot glasses from well known sports teams, vintage cookware, and so much more.

I had board games priced at $2, all the clothes priced at a buck, and a huge table in the center of the garage where everything was a quarter.  It was a major pain in the ass to price stuff, set it up nicely, and get ready for business.  I had to lift heavy items upstairs from the basement and do a shit ton of manual labor.

As someone who works in an office environment, I’m allergic to anything involving physical activity.  However, I powered through the pain.

Blah, blah, blah.  Let’s fast forward to the best part about having a rummage-o-rama.  Making money?  Fuck no.  It’s the customers!  Would you like some examples?  Of course you would!

Exhibit A:  I was selling a NEW in the ORIGINAL PLASTIC vintage blanket from JC Penney Made in the USA.  It’s a normal blanket that you’d put under a comforter for added warmth and not a fancy bedspread or anything like that.  I priced it at $2.00.  That price is reasonable as fuck.  However, some random lady came up to me and offered me a buck.  In a moment of weakness (the sale had been going for two hours and there wasn’t as much traffic as I’d hoped), I caved in and said, “Meet me in the middle at $1.50” like I’m on Pawn Stars and haggling over a hundred dollar item.  Naturally she accepted my generous offer.

Exhibit B:  I had a pair of tape measures on the ‘Everything is a quarter’ table.  One of them wasn’t marked as to how many feet it was.  So an elderly lady held one end of the tape measure and forced her husband to back up until he was 25 feet away….halfway down my fucking driveway.  Really?  It’s a quarter!  Just buy it and take the risk!  Naturally it didn’t roll back into the holder as quickly as it should have, so my husband told her to just take it for free.  He likes to give stuff away because he’s insane.  Honestly, I didn’t mind because I got 25 cents worth of entertainment value watching the poor guy slowly back up until the tape measure stopped.

Exhibit C: This is actually a cool story of a customer who taught me a new trick.  Some old dude was trying to figure out if a pair of pants would fit him, and he stuck his elbow into the pants and stretched them out to his wrist.  I just thought he was a wack job until I saw his son do the same thing.  I asked, “Okay, you got me curious…what are you doing?”  He was kind enough to explain that your waist measurement is the same as your elbow to your wrist.  I thought that was cool and then thanked him for the new knowledge…until I tried to wrap my head around that one.  What about people who are overweight?  I just tried to measure half my waist and then measure my elbow to my wrist…not happening.  I need ‘elbow to tip of my index finger.’  That dude sold me a line of bullshit.  Maybe it just pertained to him?

Exhibit D:  This is also a cool story.  There was another old dude who seemed to be a collector of vintage stuff.  He picked up a silver serving platter that was made in France.  The guy began speaking with a French accent and said, “Perhaps I used this tray to serve my many guests during a formal party attended by royals and commoners alike.”  Then he smiled, forked over his two bucks, and added, “That would be cool, wouldn’t it?”  Being a writer,  I can certainly relate to anyone that uses their imagination to come up with a backstory.

I should also mention that I had one RUDE customer who had no money, stole two stuffed animals, and took a piss in my yard.  Okay…in all honesty…it was my dog…but still!  She doesn’t handle my rummage sales very well at all!  The day we were in the garage pricing stuff, she plopped her ass on the floor and stared forlornly at the cars driving past.  If one would keep going and not pull over, she huffed and laid her head back down as if to say, “We have quality merchandise, jackass, why aren’t you stopping?”  I also had a box of old stuffed animals priced at fifty cents each.  While we were setting up the garage, I noticed that the dog was sitting in the front yard happily playing with the new toy that she stole from the box of stuffed animals.  I started screaming, “Hey!  That’s not yours and you didn’t pay for it!  THIEF!” to which my husband replied, “Quit yelling at the dog.  She can have whatever she wants.”  Yeah…she’s a bit spoiled.

[I feel the need to mention that my dog currently has roughly 30 stuffed animals, balls, toys, and Frisbees in her possession.  She is by no means toyless.  Sigh.  Don’t we always want what we can’t have?  Dogs and humans are no different.]

Hmm.  What else happened?  I met two new neighbors and promptly forgot their names in about three seconds.  I’m super awful with that.  I really need to repeat their names when I’m shaking their hands in order to commit that shit to memory.  That’s why I love talking to people on facebook…their names are RIGHT THERE!  Who am I talking to?  Oh…that’s Karen…because her name is right there!

The sad part of the rummage sale is packing up in the heat of the afternoon when you’re hot, sweaty, and have given up hope that any more customers might show up.  I box up a ton of leftovers to donate to our local thrift store, but still have a few boxes of stuff that I just can’t get rid of, even though I happily would have sold them for a dollar if any customers would have been interested.

That cake pan for $2?  Keeping it.  The purse that is identical to another purse that I already have that was $2?  Keeping it.  The ice pick dangerous weapon thing that was in the fifty cent box and I will never, ever use in this lifetime?  Keeping it…because it would be great to use if there’s ever a zombie apocalypse and I need to spear those fuckers right in the brain.

Am I rational?  No.  That’s why you like me.  Logic and reason are for sane people…and who wants to be normal?  Not this lady, thank you very much.

In conclusion, if you’re thinking of having a rummage sale…might I share my two best-selling items?

Seashells and Aloe Vera plants.

Huh?

Oh yeah.  I sold three boxes of old seashells for $1 each to THREE different customers.  They were a hot item that was popular with a multitude of shoppers.  I also sold two aloe vera plants.  I priced them high ($4 and $5) because I didn’t want just any random weirdo grabbing my beloved plants for nefarious purposes.  If you want my dirt babies, you’re going to PAY UP for those bastards.  Strangely enough, two ladies snapped them up without even quibbling on the price!

There you have it folks…just another day in the life.  I hope you found my rummage-o-rama story entertaining.  If you have any interesting rummage sale stories, please share.  I love a good story…

Til next time…

Grace

This is Not a Double Date…Q&A Session!

Hello, everyone!   I hope you had a Happy Easter, the weather in your area is warming up, and you’re ready for a good story!   Oh.  As a matter of fact, I just so happen to have one for you!  

That’s right…my newest novel, ‘This is Not a Double Date,’ is now available for pre-order on Amazon.  You know what that means…it’s time for a Question and Answer session!!!  I love doing these, because I get to be both the Interviewer and Interviewee, so I know the questions are ‘Grace Approved.’  Let’s jump right in, shall we?

Interviewer Grace:  So, congrats on releasing your newest novel into the world.  Gimme the details please.

Author Grace:  Thank you.  This is actually my ninth full length novel.  I have a myriad of short stories, but I’m not counting those.

Interviewer Grace:  Okay.  I don’t believe I asked for anything related to math.  Can you tell us more about ‘This is Not a Double Date’ so the potential buyers of your story might know what they’re getting?

Author Grace:  Fine.  I had no idea this interview process was so rigid.  You know I like going off on a tangent.  But I digress.  My story is a suspenseful romantic heist.  It is a full length stand alone novel.  Amazon gave it a length of 218 pages.  It’s about 68,000 words.

Interviewer Grace:  Again with the math.  Since you’re addicted to numbers today, maybe you could explain why you’re doing a pre-order on Amazon instead of just releasing that sucker into the wild and letting it fend for itself?

Author Grace:  Ooh.  Thank you for asking.  I’m doing a 99 cent pre-order, so anyone interested in reading the book can get it at a bargain price before it goes LIVE on Amazon.  The book releases on May 1, 2019 and the price will go to up to $2.99 at that time.  I want to give loyal readers of my blog/newsletter the opportunity to get it at a deal.  You know…as a ‘thank you’ for being supportive of me.  If you’re a subscriber to the Kindle Unlimited program, you’ll be able to read it for free and then I get paid for the page reads.

Interviewer Grace:  Okay.  Enough trying to sell shit.  Why you don’t tell us how you got the idea for this story?

Author Grace:  Another excellent question.  Thank you for asking.  I would have to say that 90% of my book ideas begin with the question, “What if…?”  In this case, I was on vacation with my husband and we were in a location that had wonderful people-watching.  (It was a theme park in Florida.  Universal Studios.)  There’s no better people-watching than in a tourist destination where people converge from all over the world to sight-see and have fun.  I love listening to other languages, checking out new fashions, and staring at all the women who have better hair than I do.  Which is literally 85% of the women.

Interviewer Grace:  I feel like you’re getting off topic and it’s my job to drag you back on point.  Ahem.  Story origin idea…

Author Grace:  My mind wanders…which is the reason it comes up with the stories in the first place.  LET IT WANDER!  Anyway…I couldn’t help but notice groups of people that appeared to be a bit off-kilter.

Interviewer Grace:  Like creepy?  Like they were serial killers?

Author Grace:  No.  Like a group of four people where three of them were smoking hot and one was not cosmetically enhanced.  It made me wonder…why is the plain jane hanging out with the ‘in crowd’ and what is the nature of their relationship?  Every single one of my stories has to have multi-dimensional characters with interesting back stories.  I live for the back-story.

Interviewer Grace:  Okay.  So….I haven’t got all day here.

Author Grace:  Sorry.  I asked myself how that average person came to associate with the ‘beautiful people.’  Obviously, I let my mind wander and ruminate on the question before coming up with an answer.  That answer…is my newest creation.

Interviewer Grace:  I’ll admit, I’m intrigued.  What if you give us the buy link and the first chapter…and then let us make up our minds if we want to spend the 99 cents?

Author Grace:  Okay.  Sounds good to me!  Here you go…

Double Date Last

Blurb:

Andi Cartwright is intrigued when her best friend invites her to a concert and insists it is not a set-up. Yes, she’ll be meeting Cara’s new boyfriend and his cousin, but it was made abundantly clear that this is not a double date.

Much to everyone’s surprise, Roman hits it off with Andi. The normally antisocial man recognizes a kindred spirit, and can’t stay away from her no matter how hard he tries.

After a series of group outings including an escape room, family game night, and a food eating competition, it becomes apparent that all is not what it seems.

Once Roman’s true motive is revealed, will Andi be able to put her feelings aside and move on…or will she simply become another victim caught in a web of lies?

This is not your typical ‘boy-meets-girl’ story. With plot twists around every corner and sinister intentions behind seemingly innocent actions, who can really be trusted?

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07QXD822Q

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THIS IS NOT A DOUBLE DATE

Grace Risata © March 2019

CHAPTER ONE

Andi – Saturday Afternoon

The ringing of my cell phone instantly startled me, snapping my attention away from the words on the page.

“Hello,” I mumbled, grabbing it and answering without looking at the caller ID.  Not many people had this number, so whoever was calling must be someone important.

“What are you doing tonight?” my best friend asked with a hint of mischief in her voice.  Ever since she started seeing someone new last month, everything had been roses and sunshine.

“I’m currently halfway into this amazing book about Egyptian mummification techniques and how they—”

“That sounds truly fascinating, Andi,” she interrupted, “But how about you start living in the present instead of three thousand years ago?  We have plans tonight.”

I didn’t bother correcting her on the exact timeline of Ancient Egypt.  Been there, done that.  Instead, I furrowed my brow and tried to come up with an excuse to decline whatever invitation she might offer.

“You’re going out with me, Tyler, and his cousin,” Cara explained before I could get a word in edgewise.  “Don’t freak out and think it’s a double date, because that’s definitely not what it is at all.”

“What is it then?”  Was Tyler’s cousin not single?  Was he sixty years old?  Had he just escaped from prison and she knew I probably wouldn’t be attracted to a murderer?  Should I be more concerned with the exact details of the evening instead of obsessing over the fact that it wasn’t a double date?  Possibly.

“Okay.  Here’s the thing,” she began, launching into some sob story meant to gain my sympathy.  “You know I’ve been seeing Tyler for almost three weeks and he’s absolutely perfect.  He’s a real man, and nothing like the guys I’ve dated in the past.  I haven’t felt this way about anyone in a long, long time.  There’s potential for a future with him.  I’m thirty years old and I might have finally met ‘the one.’  I’m being dead serious here.”

Cara was a serial relationship kind of girl.  She had a high school sweetheart who was her soulmate, the college boyfriend that taught her about true love, the married co-worker that promised to leave his wife but never went through with a divorce, and the latest and most epic failure:  Bruce.

Bruce lasted a solid two years but failed to lock her down and put a ring on it.  This one was entirely my friend’s fault.  The guy was a decent, hard-working fellow, but nothing he ever did was good enough.  Yes, he gave her attention and flattery, but that wasn’t expensive jewelry.  No one could ‘see’ compliments, but a bracelet and a watch were another story entirely.  After failing to live up her unrealistic expectations, Cara kicked him to the curb with a heavy heart and a vow that she wouldn’t make any more mistakes.

“Okay, you’re dead serious,” I repeated in a bored tone while returning half my attention back to the Egyptian book I’d been reading before she called.  “How does this involve me not going on a double date with you?”

“Tyler got tickets for some band he follows…I guess he knows the drummer or something…and we had plans to go see them tonight as kind of a group thing with his best friend and the guy’s girlfriend.  I know I don’t need to tell you how important this is, right?”

“Uh…”  Evidently I failed to grasp the significance and needed to be given a little bit of a mental push in the right direction.  History, Ancient Civilizations, and cultures of the past were all things that made perfect sense to me.  Relationships?  Not so much.

“Tyler isn’t just treating me like some random chick to pass the time, Andi.  He wants to share his musical tastes and introduce me to his inner circle.  Meeting his friends and hanging out with the people who are important to him…this proves he’s getting serious about our relationship.”

“Okay.  I’m still not seeing where I come into the picture.  You want him to meet me in order to reciprocate the friend sharing or what?”

Under normal circumstances, I had always hung out with Cara as kind of a ‘girls only’ type deal.  We’d been friends since high school and grown close out of a mutual respect for each other’s freedom.  Never had it been the kind of ‘BFF’ closeness that required us to have a whole ‘squad’ and check in with each other every five minutes.  She had her life, I had mine, and we made sure to stay updated on all major events.  Whether we talked twice a week or twice a month, I knew she always had my back if the situation called for it.  As we got older and careers took up a large chunk of time, the in-person get togethers became less and less frequent.   Being somewhat of a hermit, I was fine with that.  Hence the reason her sudden need to introduce me to this new dude seemed a bit suspicious.

“You’re missing the point entirely,” she explained.  “Tyler’s best friend bailed on our double date tonight because he has to work overtime.  Now we’re stuck with two extra tickets to the concert.  It’s not like you have to pay any money, and this is just a spur of the moment thing and not a set-up in any way, shape, or form.  Besides, you should be having fun with people and living life instead of sitting with your nose buried in a book.  This is all very ‘last minute’ and I don’t have a huge social circle to choose from.  I really need someone to bring along so I don’t look like a pathetic loser that can’t scrape up a friend.  Don’t make me beg here…I’ll owe you one.”

I was quite surprised that she admitted the truth aloud.  Cara could be difficult on a good day and didn’t have many friends at all.  There was a married cousin she was close to, a few acquaintances from work…and me.  That pretty much covers it.

“Assuming I give in and agree to go with you, why do you keep telling me it’s not a double date?  Do you know anything about this guy’s cousin that you’re sticking me with?”

“Nothing at all,” she remarked casually, not giving a shit about who I was forced to interact with.  “Tyler has been pretty tight lipped about his family, so I’m treating this as a very important step towards him trusting me.  He doesn’t share a lot of personal information.  I’ve been giving him space because I don’t want to pry and scare him off.  Everything has been absolutely perfect between us and I’m not about to jinx it.  Have you seen my updates on Friendbook?”

How could I not?  Cara posted at least a hundred pictures of all the epic adventures she’s been having with Tyler.  I think they went on six dates and it seemed like each and every moment was captured and proudly displayed online.  From the well orchestrated poses in front of various restaurants and night clubs, to the flowers he brought when picking her up, to the many snaps of the kissing couple…well…they completely took up her whole online profile.

“Of course I saw your updates.  It looks like you’re having fun.”

“It’s more than just fun, Andi.  Aside from our insane chemistry, Tyler has the hottest body I’ve ever seen in my life.  Why do you think I take so many selfies of us?  We couldn’t be any more photogenic if we tried!”

I had to admit she had a point.  Tyler was a solid eight out of ten, and I didn’t go giving exceptional scores all willy nilly.  With high cheekbones, deep brown eyes, and a perfect smile, the man seemed to be flawless.  I’m sure his ‘tall, dark, and handsome’ vibe had Cara eating out of the palm of his hand.  She had an affinity for a pretty face and a bad boy persona.  Tyler fit the bill and then some.

“Yeah, you two are prom king and queen material for sure,” I said with an eye roll, grateful she couldn’t see my expression over the phone.  “Can’t you stalk his cousin on Friendbook and see if he looks normal at least?  For my sake?”

“No can do.  Tyler doesn’t have a profile on there since his got hacked and he can’t get a new one.  Stupid Friendbook.  You’ll just have to wing it.  It doesn’t really matter anyway, since this is not a double date.”

“I feel like you keep emphasizing that point for some reason, yet I’m not sure why…”

Cara had never set me up before with any of her boyfriend’s friends.  I didn’t date much in high school, we went to different colleges, and I guess I never really pressed the matter.  While I wasn’t the most outgoing of women, I had enough gentlemanly attention to get me through life thus far.  A string of ordinary men had come and gone, but nothing worth mentioning.

“Tyler seemed insistent that I should invite someone along tonight, but he made it perfectly clear that his cousin wasn’t interested in being set up.  In fact, he repeated himself at least three times when he said that it was just a group thing and not to try and make a love match.  Maybe his cousin is gay?  Who the hell knows!  I just figured you’d appreciate the lack of pressure to get along with the guy.  Flirting isn’t your strong suit.”

She was right.  I had no game.

Before I could think of an excuse as to why I was unable to attend the concert of a band I’d probably never heard of and remove myself from the obligation to make small talk with a random dude, Cara finalized our plans and ended the call.

“Since you have nothing better going on and haven’t flat out refused, I’m taking that as a ‘yes.’  Be at my house at seven.  We’re going out for dinner before the concert.  Bye!”

She hung up and that was the end of that.  I had no other course of action except to stare forlornly at my new Egyptian book and shrug in defeat.

“Instead of a nice night losing myself in a very enthralling mummification journal, I’m going to tempt fate and hang out with two complete strangers.  Lovely.  I get to fade into the background with some dork while Cara and Mr. Sexy Model take selfie after egotistical selfie.”

If only I’d known at the time just how much fate had in store for me.  Instead of a simple outing involving dinner, music, and small talk, the universe had other, more sinister plans.  Who would have thought one seemingly innocent invitation would cause my entire life to spiral out of control?

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Oooh!  Are you intrigued?  I sure hope so!

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07QXD822Q

Pre-order for only 99 cents on Amazon for a limited time only!

As always, thank you for reading and have a great day!

Til next time…

Grace

Duck, duck, blurb!

Hello, everyone!

The topic of today’s blog post involves ducks, blurbs, and my husband’s unhelpfulness with both issues.  Do I have you thoroughly confused yet?  Excellent.  Let’s jump right in.

If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that I love animals and have a six year old black Labrador retriever.  She’s a completely docile little girl that loves food, stuffed animals, and stealing my spot on the couch every time I get up to go in the kitchen for anything.  I’ll come back holding a bottle of water only to find her snuggled comfortably in the place I just vacated with an innocent look on her face.

“Oh, were you sitting here?  I had no idea you were coming back so soon.  My bad.  I guess you’ll just have to sit on the small loveseat.  Finders keepers, losers weepers.”

Do I yell at her and shoo her off the couch?  Hell no.  She knows I’m a pushover and she exploits my generosity at every turn.

Well, we went outside a few days ago for a walk.  Lo and behold, there was a female duck in our yard.  I love ducks.  When I was little, we took family vacations to Florida and I got to buy a loaf of bread and feed the ducks.  This was almost as exciting as actually going to Disneyworld.  Ducks are beautiful creatures, they quacked at me to feed them, happily gobbled up the bread, and I got to be ‘master of the birds’ by deciding which ones got a bite.

“No, you fat pig, you just had three chunks.  Share with the rest of them!”

Yes, I like to be in charge, in case you hadn’t noticed.

Anyway, I was thrilled at having a duck in my yard.  I understand that this is a wild duck and not a Florida duck that regularly gets fed by humans, so there was no illusion that it might waddle over and expect some wonderbread.  I kept the dog on her leash and we went on with our lives.

In case you need a visual, here is a picture (not taken by me!) of a female mallard:

duck duck

The next day, I saw the same female duck along with her husband.  Hell, maybe he was just her boyfriend and they’re living in sin.  I’m not here to judge.  Let’s fast forward to this morning.  It’s Saturday…aka…the weekend.  I’m relaxing and not in the mood for a full blown walk, so I just took the dog out (with no leash) so she could take a quick pee and I could get a little fresh air.

I gave her a stern warning as I rubbed her belly, using a voice that meant business.

“I’m letting you outside with no leash.  There is a good chance the ducks will be in the yard.  Stay the hell away from my pet ducks or I’ll kill you.  Okay, that’s an empty threat.  If you scare away my ducks, I will NOT give you any cookies all day long.  It’s getting pretty serious, dude.  I mean it.  Go out, sniff air, go pee, and leave the ducks alone!”

Do you think she complied with my simple request?

Hell no!  She’s a dog.  She doesn’t speak English, and certainly doesn’t understand complex sentences.

So…we go outside and there’s a female duck in the yard.  It’s actually laying low and blended in with the yard.  The dumb dog walked right past my duck and kept on going.

But then her nose kicked in and she turned around to check out the wild creature that dared enter her territory.

Needless to say, I started screaming, the duck waddled away, the dog took a piss literally SIX FEET AWAY FROM THE DUCK, and then the whole circle started all over again with the duck waddling away, the dog following, and me screaming.

This whole fiasco ended with the duck in the middle of the street, the dog hunched down in fear not understanding my shouts of “LEAVE IT” when she was bred to HUNT BIRDS and just doing her damn job.

Clearly I could not just waltz back into the house.  If the duck got run over by a car, I cannot be responsible for that.

I herded the dog back into the house and chased the duck across the street into the neighbor’s yard.

Of course we’re not done there.  I stared out the window once back inside and saw the duck sitting on the edge of the yard staring forlornly at my house.  Evidently it lives here now.  Obviously, it waited five minutes, walked back into the middle of the street, and plopped its ass down just waiting to die.

Lovely.

I threw on some shoes, went back outside, and chased the duck into my yard.  Anyone out for a morning stroll would have gotten a nice eyeful of me wearing sweat pants, a jacket to cover the fact I had no bra on, hair completely uncombed and looking like a rat’s nest, wildly flailing my arms in order to get the duck ‘home.’

The duck was fed up with my bothering it by now, so it actually flew away when I tried shooing it out of the street.

Where did it go?  High over the houses, circled back around, and landed right in my yard where the whole episode began.

Now I can’t let my dog out without being on a leash, and I’m pretty sure this duck is just waiting for her man to get home so she can tell him the whole story.

“This psychotic lady who totally looked homeless started chasing me!  We need to shit all over her car for vengeance.”

“That sounds horrible, babe.  Was she alone?”

“Nah, she had a dog.  The beast behaved itself; it’s the lady that was a nutcase.”

Once I got back in the house for the last time, I told my husband of our wild adventure.

“There’s a duck in the yard.  It tried to escape, but I made it come back.”

His response?

“It’s not going to be there for long with you and the dog harassing it all the time.  You two dorks need to leave it alone.”

THE END…or is it?

No, not quite.  Since we’re on the topic of my husband, and one of the purposes of my newsletter/blog is to actually sell books because I’m a writer, let’s talk about authorly stuff too.

I’m about 75% done with my current novel.  Usually at this point in a story, I become obsessed with the blurb, aka ‘the synopsis,’ aka ‘let’s sum up an entire lengthy tale in a couple paragraphs and try not to freak out when this seemingly easy task becomes impossible.’

My husband and I were driving somewhere in the car and I was trying to work on the blurb.  By this point, I was on the fourth day of trying to figure the damn thing out and getting desperate.  I summarized the storyline for him and then threw out some blurb examples for his feedback.

Let me explain that my husband does not like to read.  He never has and never will.  Unless it’s a magazine with pictures, he’s not interested.  The man has never read one word of one book that I’ve written.

Is it annoying and heart-breaking?  No, not at all.  I’m constantly asking him questions regarding plot.  “What tools would a plumber have in his truck?”  “How do you make a car catch on fire?”  “What does it feel like for a guy when [insert sex thing here]?”

I also make him critique my covers and blurbs.  He usually dislikes both.  The man is honest to a fault and doesn’t sugar coat a damn thing.  So, it came as no surprise he got nit-picky when it came to my latest blurb.  What DID come as a total shock, was the fact that he decided to try and write the entire blurb himself.

This basically involved him throwing out one sentence and telling me to write it down.  Here you go:

“When Andi accepted the invitation for a friends’ night out, she had no idea of the sinister motives at play that would end up turning her life upside down.”

Um…what?  I waited for him to keep talking, but he was finished.  My response?

“Thank you, but that sucks!  It is a mystery?  A horror?  Can you be any more specific on what the actual fuck happens in the book?”

Clearly, ladies and gentlemen, I can’t let him ‘ghost write’ my blurbs.  After much staring at blank paper and crossing out words, this is what I’ve come up with:

“Andi Cartwright is intrigued when her best friend invites her to a concert and insists it is not a set-up.  Yes, she’ll be meeting Cara’s new boyfriend and his cousin, but it was made abundantly clear that this is not a double date.

Much to everyone’s surprise, Roman hits it off with Andi.  The normally antisocial man recognizes a kindred spirit, and can’t stay away from her no matter how hard he tries.

After a series of group outings including an escape room, family game night, and a food eating competition, it becomes apparent that all is not what it seems.

Once Roman’s true motive is revealed, will Andi be able to put her feelings aside and move on…or will she simply become another victim caught in a web of lies?

This is not your typical ‘boy-meets-girl’ story.  With plot twists around every corner and sinister intentions behind seemingly innocent actions, who can really be trusted?”

It is my strong hope that you like my synopsis better than the one my husband came up with.  If you prefer his to mine, please don’t tell me!

Basically the story is a suspenseful romantic hybrid.  I can’t give away too much in the blurb without spoiling the surprises.  I’m having fun writing the novel and that’s all that matters!  I have a few covers designed, but nothing solid yet, so I can’t do a cover reveal at this time.  Hopefully, I’ll get my ass in gear and have the book out soon.  If I give myself a deadline, I’ll just freak out from the stress.

Ah…one more thing…here are some freebie promotions from Instafreebie.  Several authors have joined together to give away some free books.  Check them out and find your next book boyfriend!

https://claims.prolificworks.com/gg/3Spq4ZQhxnM9HAKeocpC

steamy romance

That’s all we have for today.  Have a nice weekend and be kind to wildlife!

Grace

P.S. In case you were wondering, once we got back in the house I did NOT give my dog a cookie.  I’m being a hardass and following through with my ‘duck harassment = no dog treat’ threat.

Just another day in the wilderness…

Hello Everyone!

The last newsletter I published asked for feedback from my readers.  Holy crap, did you deliver!  Basically the response was ‘Keep writing funny stuff and we’ll keep reading it.’  Sounds good to me.

So today’s newsletter consists of:  a blooper and a true story of my wild wilderness adventure.  Shall we proceed?  Excellent.

One reader commented that she likes when an author posts about their humorous typos.  I instantly smiled, because I have one hell of a doozy.  During an intimate scene in one of my stories, one thing led to another and my heroine stuck her hand up the hero’s shirt to check out his smoking hot body.  Except…she didn’t quite do that in the first version of the story.

She stuck her hand up the hero’s shit.

See how much of a difference a tiny little ‘R’ can make?  Obviously, spell check didn’t see the difference between ‘Shit’ and ‘Shirt’ because they’re both real words.

Perhaps I’ve accidently stumbled upon a new genre and ‘poo porn’ just might be the next thing to take over the market.

Nah, I didn’t think so either.

Let’s take a moment to offer you some amazing book deals and then we’ll proceed to my funny-ish story.

I signed up to be part of a multi author promotion.  A whole heaping mess of writers are joining forces and discounting their books to FREE or 99 Cents on Amazon, myself included.  This involves nothing on your part except for clicking the link below (I mean you don’t have to sign up for a newsletter to snag these great deals…they’re available on Amazon).  But wait…there’s more…. For the first time EVER, my newest release, ‘Chasing the Bodyguard,’ is on sale for the low, low price of 99 cents.  That’s right…I chose to discount my full length, 348 page, contemporary romantic suspense comedy action Irish Mafia road trip romance for only 99 pennies!  Holy shit, what a deal!

Time for some links and then we can move on…

Here’s the link to the Romance Book Fair with 99 cent and free books on Amazon…

http://irisblobel.com/blog/

March Romance Book Fair

And the link to my 99 cent book….

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07K662ZS8

chasing the cover

Okay… let’s get to the main story of amusement for this week’s newsletter.  Nothing terribly monumental happened in the past two weeks since I last checked in, so I’m going to the vault with a gem of a story from probably seventeen-ish years ago.

Once upon a time (three houses ago) I lived out in the country in a house next to a large field that was next to a creek.  It was during the winter, so we can safely assume it was late December, early January.  I had a nine year old stepson and an eleven month old black Labrador puppy, and both were cooped up and looking for adventure.  So I had the genius idea of taking a ‘wilderness hike’ to the creek.  We hadn’t lived in the house very long and tended to stick to our own yard, so this was something new and exciting.

Once all our gear was put on (boots, hat, scarf, gloves, etc), we were all set.  The pup was full of energy and eager to sniff every new bush and explore new terrain.  My stepson found a walking stick and he was getting into the spirit of the adventure.  All was well until we actually came to the creek.  That’s where the real fun began.

Let me explain that this wasn’t a huge creek, maybe eight feet across, and the water was flowing nicely but not too strong with raging rapids that might suck you in and drown you.  In other words, there was no clear and present danger.  There was, however, a huge ice chunk in the middle of the creek.

“I think we should jump across to the ice chunk island and then jump across to the other side of the creek,” I suggested foolishly.

“Um…what?” my stepson asked with concern.  “The ice chunk doesn’t look very solid and that sounds dangerous.  I’m pretty sure that’s the worst idea I’ve ever heard in my life.”

Let me explain that he’d been around me since he was five, and the kid knew better than to blindly trust my ideas.  There may or may not have been an incident a few months prior where he tried to stop me from putting a metal pot in the microwave, but I didn’t listen.

Yes, bad things happen when you try to put metal in the microwave.  The boy’s grandma (my beloved mother in law) had taught him well.  While she was busy teaching him what NOT to do, I was busy showing him WHAT HAPPENS when you do stuff you’re not supposed to do.  Her lessons were practical, but mine were funny…so funny that he still brings them up to this day and he’s well into his twenties.

By now I had myself convinced that there was absolutely no risk involved with jumping onto the ice platform.  I intended to take the dog’s leash, make my move, and show my stepson that I was perfectly capable of maneuvering my way across the creek.

Did that happen?

Fuck no.

The dog stuck out her foot to put on the brakes as if to say, “Oh, HELL no.  Even I know better than that!”

I took one leap, went about three feet, and found myself sinking into the mud bottom of the creek while ice cold water swirled around my legs almost up to my thigh.

“I’m sinking!” I screamed.  “It’s like quicksand!”

“GET OUT!  GET OUT,” my stepson shouted.

I quickly turned, got myself unstuck, and miraculously made it back to dry land.  While I was safe for the meantime, it had become apparent that the water was very, very cold and I was now freezing.

“I’m going to get HYPOTHERMIA,” I screeched, quickly running as fast as I could in the direction of the house.  With every step, my cheap non-waterproof boots squished in an ever present reminder that one does not go in water in the winter or bad things will happen.

By this point, my stepson was laughing so hard that he was doubled over in hysterics.

“I told you not do it.  What made you think you could jump across a creek?  You got a ‘D’ in gym class!  Even the dog knew it was a bad idea!”

“Just grab her leash so she doesn’t run off…I need to get back to the house before my foot turns blue and freezes right off…it’s every man and dog for himself!”

This caused an even worse fit of laughter from my stepson…with a threat of future blackmail.

“I’m telling dad and grandma about your poor decision making skills!  You’re going to be in trouble!”

Not more than two minutes had passed once we got back to the house that I heard him on the phone…

“Grandma…have I got a good one for you!  Are you sitting down?  Guess what happened now…”

Obviously we all lived happily ever after and no one lost a foot to hypothermia.  Coincidentally, the dog never did become a fan of swimming.  My stepson loved this story because he got to add it to his list of ‘Crazy stuff to remind my stepmom that she’s a nutcase.’  Believe me, there’s a lot of things on that list.  To this day, he likes to bring it up in conversation when he thinks I’m making poor life choices.

“You think that’s a good idea?” he’ll ask.  “You’re not known for the best ideas.  Remember that time when you almost drowned the dog?”

……and that was your story of the day.

That’s all I have for now…. Have a wonderful weekend and stay safe…it’s a jungle out there!

Grace

Opinions Needed…Let Your Voice Be Heard!

Okay, what am I raving about now?  Let me explain.  I was bored the other day and messing around with the settings in my newsletter.  I can see the inactive subscribers that haven’t opened an email from me in six months, a year, or have never opened one since the dawn of time (or since I started sending a newsletter two years ago).

This got me thinking…

What makes someone open a newsletter?

Hell if I know.

What would make ME open a newsletter if I was a reader?

Wait.

I AM a reader!  What do I want in a newsletter?

Hmm.  I would want to get an email two or three times a month, I would want interesting content about the author, and I would want some free stuff.

Some authors send newsletters several times a week, which is way too much.  Some authors send newsletters that only ask you to buy their books, which is kind of monotonous.

So I’m going to aspire to send out a newsletter that I would want to read.  Therefore, we’re going to do three things…

1) I will try to send a newsletter at least twice a month so you remember who I am but don’t feel like I’m bothering you too much.

2)  I will try to include a random funny story about what’s going on in my life to keep you entertained.

3) I’ll try to include at least one freebie with every newsletter.

Does that sound good?

Please, feel free to REPLY to this email and let me know your opinion.  What do you want more of and what do you want less of?  Do you like giveaways?  Funny memes?  A quote of the day?  Speak up and let your voice be heard!

Anyway, now we’re at the part of the newsletter where I include an entertaining story.  Will it entertain you?  I’m not sure, but I find it amusing.

Let’s proceed.

story time 2

Once upon a time I had a taste for cake last month.  I had a box of marble cake mix in my pantry, but no tub of frosting.  Let me explain that I don’t usually make anything homemade from scratch.  Okay, that’s a lie.  I make homemade zucchini bread once every four years.  Why?  Simple truth: I’m lazy.

So I wanted cake but had no frosting.  I vaguely remember something about making homemade frosting from powdered sugar.  I googled “powdered sugar frosting recipe” and found one that required milk, butter, and vanilla extract.  I always have butter and milk, no problem, but I was pleasantly surprised to find I also had vanilla extract.  Woot Woot.  However, I was out of powdered sugar.

In reality, I probably had powdered sugar in my pantry ten years ago and threw it out when it expired.  I have no idea what possessed me to think I might have powdered sugar.

Mission failed.

No worries.  I vowed to get a tub of frosting next time I went to the grocery store.  But there’s one little glitch in my plan.  For the last few years, I’ve been making an effort to actually READ THE INGREDIENTS on the labels of food I buy.  The amount of artificial flavors, weirdo chemicals, and preservatives in the crap I eat really freaks me out.  So I made the mistake of reading the label on the tub of frosting.

Contains 2% or less of: distilled monoglycerides, color (yellows 5 and 6 and other color added), polysorbate 60, sodium stearoyl lactylate, sodium acid pyrophosphate, natural and artificial flavor.

What the hell?  Am I eating this shit or being embalmed with it?

No thank you, I’m not interested.  So I put the tub of artificial toxins back on the shelf and bought some good old confectioner’s sugar after a four minute debate of whether ‘powdered sugar’ and ‘confectioner’s sugar’ were indeed the same thing.  Yes, they are.  I over-think things.  It’s my superpower in life.

Moving right along…I then went home and googled the exact measurements of the ingredients in the homemade frosting.  Each one was different, so I just went with:

3 ¾ cups of powdered sugar, 4 tablespoons of milk, ½ a stick of butter, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

I microwaved the butter, dumped the ingredients into a bowl, and started stirring.  Imagine my shock and awe when it turned into delicious frosting that was HEALTHY and tasted a zillion times better than the store bought crap.  Why in the hell had I been missing this my entire life?

I promptly called my mother and yelled at her.

“Mom, did you know you can make HOME MADE frosting from scratch that tastes amazing and it’s not toxic like the store shit?  Why did you not teach me how to make this?”

“It’s easier and faster to just buy it.  It all tastes the same anyway.  Bring me a piece of cake!”

My mom does not bake from scratch, which is why I don’t bake from scratch.  I was never taught these important things.  My mother in law, however, made everything home made.  She’s in Heaven right now, but I have no doubt she’s looking down on me and laughing her ass off.

“Why do you think my cakes tasted so good, honey?  If you hadn’t been so lazy and set in your ways, I would have showed you how to cook!”

She was the sweetest lady and made the best desserts.  In reality, she’s probably shrugging her shoulders and thinking I’m better late than never!  I’ve found that there are two types of people in life.  The hardworking ones who strive for perfection and worry, “Is this good enough?  I hope it is,” even when they’ve slaved and labored over a true masterpiece such as a magnificent five course meal.  The other type of person mixes four ingredients in a bowl, marvels over her homemade frosting, and acts like she just invented the wheel.

Yes, I am of the latter group of humans.

Unfortunately, I’ve won one battle with the frosting but I still have so much to learn.  Do you have any idea what ingredients are in a boxed cake mix?  Don’t even get me started….

Thus we come to the end of today’s email.

Your ‘homework’ is to let me know what you want in a newsletter, give me some easy recipes if you have a favorite so I can expand my repertoire and make more than just frosting, and feel free to check out all these great books that are FREE…

I’m part of a Steamy Romance and Erotica Book  Giveaway that features over 178 FREE stories to heat you up on a cold winter’s day.  There’s truly something for everyone, so what are you waiting for?  check it out!

steamy romance giveaway

https://claims.prolificworks.com/gg/rnIopy0SZb5GB0coRxDq

That’s all for today.  Til next time!

Grace

My Year Long Experiment with AMS Ads (Amazon Advertising) …the results might surprise you!

Hello, everyone.  For regular readers of my blog who have come to expect entertaining posts about bizarrely random occurrences in my life, you might be advised to sit this one out.  It’s geared more toward writers, but you’re welcome to give it a read on the off chance you’re considering entering the publishing world.

This time I’m going to put on my Independent Author hat and talk about something called Amazon Advertising (Also known as AMS Ads) and discuss my year long adventure while trying to ‘get rich’ selling more books.

If you’re an indie author, you’ve undoubtedly laughed after reading the above sentence because you know there’s no easy path to getting rich by selling books.  It takes a LOT of books, a LOT of time, and an immeasurable amount of blood, sweat, and tears.  Sure, maybe the rare exception, the .001% statistic, one lucky soul might crack the code and make millions after being discovered by the right person.  For the rest of us, it’s a labor of love, frustration, and a vicious cycle of writing, marketing, promoting, and then back to writing.  But I’m not here to complain.  I love to write.  The part that chaps my ass is the need to market your books.  After all, the word hungry masses can’t find your brilliant stories if they don’t know they exist.  That’s how we come to the evil monster called ‘advertising.’  Today, we’re going to discuss promoting your books through Amazon’s Advertising program.

I spend a lot of time of Facebook in author groups ‘researching stuff.’  Amazon Advertising pops up over and over again.  In fact there are several Facebook Groups dedicated to tips and tricks on making the most effective ads.  If you know me at all, you know I’m loathe to spend money on anything.  I do my own editing (Yeah, KKH, I know you help, so here’s your shout out!), my own covers (with a little critique from some lovely friends who aren’t shy to tell me when my font stinks, thanks Dawn and Ginger!), and I do advertise in a few newsletters two or three times a year (total spend is probably $50 a year).  So I was naturally hesitant to dive into the deep end of Amazon Advertising.  I cling to every nickel like it’s a life vest and I’m on the Titanic.

That being said, I did some research and found that you can set a daily budget for AMS Ads to a mere $1.00 per day with Sponsored Advertising.  Okay.  I have a dollar.  Let’s give this a whirl!

In case you’re a rookie and have no idea about how this works, I’ll break it down a little bit for you.

1) Choose one of your books to advertise.  It can’t be in the erotica category because Amazon does not let you advertise Erotica.  If you said, “What?  No way, Grace!  You’re shitting me!  I’ve seen several ads on there for ‘Taboo Tales of Forbidden Encounters.’  You’re lying to my face!”  No.  I would never do that.  Click on these books and see what categories they’re in.  There are ways to side step everything if you’re crafty enough.

ams ads pic three.png

These books are all in the ‘sponsored products’ meaning they’re using AMS Ads to let you know about their book.  Wow.  How can they do this if they’re clearly short erotic stories?  The category.  They’re in ‘romance anthologies.’

2) Once you choose your book to advertise, you have to come up with a crafty short tagline to entice readers to buy your book.  If you’re an author, you know that it’s soul-sucking to come up with a short three paragraph blurb to try and sum up your 100,000 word novel.  Try coming up with 140 characters to grab the reader’s attention.  Not easy, folks.  Not easy at all.

3) Do you think you’re ready to move on to step three?  No.  Actually, you’re not.  You’ve just spent an hour writing the perfect catchy two sentence statement and you’re convinced it’s going to hook every reader.  You might even have asked a few friends if they like it.  They might have given you glowing praise.  You’re stoked!  Hit publish on that ad, baby!

No.  Not yet.

Because if you’ve used ‘banned terminology,’ then that ad you wasted hours perfecting is never going to see the light of day.  How do I know this?  Because this is the reason for the entire blog post today.  I’m bitter.  And Angry.  Ah, shit.  I might have gotten ahead of myself though.  We’ll come back to this topic later.  I promise.  You need a bit more background info first.

4)  Once you have the book chosen, the ad copy chosen, and you’re ready to rock and roll, you need to come up with dollar amounts and key words.  If you let Amazon automatically choose your keywords, you’ll come up with about twenty crappy phrases that are somewhat bizarre and don’t really fit anything.  Go over them and pick the best ones and then make up your own.  I find a mix of random keywords that apply to your book PLUS names of authors in your genre will work the best.  So if you write military romances, search Amazon for ‘military romances’ and then see what authors pop up.  Once you find a few names, see the ‘also boughts’ and you’ll have more names.  See those names, check their also boughts, and you’ll have more names.  Before long, you’ll have a ton of author keywords.  You can have up to 1000 keywords per ad.  With my most successful ad, I had about 950 keywords.

5) Once keywords are chosen, you need to set the bid amounts.  I started off with 25 cents per keyword.  Some keywords never cost me a penny because no one clicked on them EVER in the entire length of the campaign.  Some keywords cost me $50 because they were high traffic.  The more book sales I got from a keyword, the more I increased the bid amount to get more visibility.  The higher the amount you bid, the more exposure the ad will receive.  You know those super popular authors who’s ads seem to be everywhere for every single book?  They must spend in the high thousands every single month.

Okay.  You’re all set.  Sit back and let that ad generate revenue for you!

I would now like to share my results with you.  I took the plunge in March of 2018 with two of my romance stories.  I noticed immediate results in regards to page reads.  (Let me explain that all my books are in Kindle Unlimited exclusively on Amazon.  I am not ‘wide’ which means my books are not available on other platforms.  Therefore I get paid for page reads when a subscriber in the Kindle Unlimited program reads my books).  So page reads went up dramatically from the hundreds a day (500-ish on a good day) to the thousands (1500 on a good day).  This lasted a month or two and then died down.  No worries.

Let’s fast forward to July of 2018.  I had a new release of a romance book in a bit of an obscure category.  Since the category wasn’t very large (and I struck gold and designed a cover that actually looked like a romance book and turned out quite well if I do say so myself), this book took off like a rocket ship launching into space.  I also did a pre-order and I also started an AMS Ad for this book.

Am I a millionaire?  No.  I did have three months in a row where I made more than I ever have before.  I was super excited, did a happy dance around my house, and was able to pay for a dental crown on my chipped tooth.  (I know, right?  Just when you have some extra pocket change, the universe will not hesitate to find a way to spend it!)

I attributed this successful book to (1) the good cover, (2) the obscure category, and (3) the Amazon Ad.

I’m going to show you a screenshot now.

ams ad pic one.png

This is the summary of my Amazon Ad Screen.  This chart goes from March of 2018 until today when I just ‘archived’ or ended my last two campaigns with Amazon Advertising.

Please see the sixth campaign from the top.  The one that has over a million and a half impressions (views by customers), 229 sales, and cost me $825 dollars.  If this was not successful, I would not have spent the money.  If you’re thinking, “Dude…you spent $825 to make $682 in sales….so….if you only get a 70% royalty on sales…uh…you got hosed, man!”

No.  This chart doesn’t take into account the page reads.  They don’t let you track that.  So, I assure you, it was worth my while to have the ad.

Now, I’m sure you’re asking, “Dude…if you’re making enough bank to pay for fancy new teeth, why the hell did you archive the ad?  Are you an idiot?”

This is the sad/bitter/angry/insert curse word here/rotten part of the story.  Around the first of the year in 2019, Amazon decided to revamp their Amazon Ad home screen.  When something is successful and working, why not change it and mess things up?  Yes.  I believe that’s their motto.

The home page was changed, ads that were previously terminated by authors were suddenly turned back on, and some ads that were LIVE and running were now turned off.  (If an ad campaign is not performing as well as you’d like, you can always ‘pause’ it.  If you ‘archive it,’ that will stop it completely and you’re unable to turn it back on.)

Several authors noticed this right away and were kind enough to post on Facebook that everyone should check their ads.  One of my old, underperforming ads was turned back on.  No worries.  I turned it off right away.  No harm, no foul.

However, a week later I noticed that my most successful, ‘$825 paid to Amazon’ campaign was ARCHIVED.  Did I do this?  HELL NO.  Why would I stop the money maker?

I placed a call to Amazon Customer Service on January 17, 2019.  After telling the story to no less than four customer service representatives and spending upwards of twenty minutes on hold, I was told they were ‘escalating the case’ to tech support.

I received over ten emails telling me the case would be resolved by January 31, it went to a different department, they were working on it, blah, blah, excuse, excuse, lie, lie.

In the meantime, I decided to re-create the ad.

However, I had one small problem.

Remember the earlier freak-out fit I had in step number three about writing your ad copy?  Well, that’s about to come into play here…and it’s not pretty.

When I first started out with AMS Ads, it was like the wild, wild west.  In other words…not so many rules and restrictions.  This is my best selling ad…

ams ad pic two

Can you figure out what’s wrong with it?

Shortly after I started the ad, Amazon banned the use of ‘kindle unlimited’ or ‘read in KU’ in the ads.  However, I was somehow magically ‘grandfathered in’ and they let my ad stay there.  I believe the ‘Now in Kindle Unlimited’ helped my ad perform as well as it did.

So there was no way in hell they would let me use that phrase on a new ad.  Curses, foiled again.

But I can’t just sit there and have no ad running at all.  So I tried to recreate the ad and just eliminate that part about kindle unlimited.  No worries, right?

WRONG.

My new ad copy:

“A volunteer opportunity at a veteran’s charity pairs a defiant alpha male with the one woman who refuses to give up on him.”

Does that strike you as having any taboo element?

Nope, me neither.  It looks perfectly fine.

However, the cock-blockers DENIED my ad.

What the heck is wrong with that?

After more scouring of Facebook and several pissy emails to Amazon, this is the response I got:

“Please note that keywords which are based around sexual preferences such as BDSM or keywords like dominant, submissive, alpha, omega, harem, reverse harem, ménage, erotica, virgin, or similar words which suggest similar activities are not permitted.”

Okay.  So evidently ‘Alpha’ is not allowed.  How in the hell did I know that?  When you buy a hair dryer, there’s a nice little tag that warns, “DON’T DROP THIS IN THE TOILET OR YOU’LL ELECTROCUTE YOURSELF.”  I appreciate the warning.  How am I going to know what’s allowed/not allowed unless the rules are spelled out, Amazon?

I did, indeed create another Amazon ad that didn’t have the banned words, but it tanked.  In addition to my flaw of being insanely cheap, I have no patience at all.  After spending $5 and seeing absolutely no results, I cancelled the new ad.

As of today, February 9, 2019, Amazon still hasn’t gotten back to me as to why my $825 ad was suddenly archived.  I believe they shut it down because of the taboo use of ‘alpha’ and ‘kindle unlimited’ but were too embarrassed to tell me they let it run for so long and just discovered it now.

Transparency is not a strong suit of Amazon.  When you have a brick and mortar store with thirteen bottles of shampoo sitting on the shelf…you know that you sold one of them if twelve remain at the end of the day.  However, authors have to trust Amazon not to screw them over when everything is done digitally and there’s no way to track anything.

So, guess what?

As of today, I ‘archived’ my last two Amazon Ads and I’m not paying any more for this sketchy program.  It has run its course for being effective in my world.

Am I shooting myself in the foot?  Possibly.  Do I care right now?  Absolutely not.

I’m going back to writing.

Thanks for taking the time to read about my experience!

Grace

Curses…foiled again!

Hello everyone!  I know…it’s been over a month since I last wrote a blog post.  Don’t think I’ve been whooping it up on the French Riviera or anything too exotic.  I started to get a sore throat right before the holidays, but it eventually went away and came back full force on Christmas Eve.  By New Year’s Day it had turned into a rager of a cold, so I went to the Doctor for antibiotics.

Last week was the first time in over a month that I actually felt healthy.  I was happy, back to myself again, and ready to start 2019 with a bang.

Of course, life likes to throw curveballs at me, which leads us to the topic of today’s blog post.

[insert ominous scary music here, please]

Today, I’d like to share a little story of the events that unfolded in my life yesterday.  Yes, everything that you’re about to read is true.  Yes, I have a flair for the dramatic, that’s why I write books.

Once upon a time (Yesterday at lunch), I was all set to eat the same food I eat every day.  Yes, I’m a creature of habit.  Lunch consists of a peanut butter sandwich, half a Yoplait yogurt, and half a candy bar.  My favorite candy bar in the entire world is a plain dark chocolate bar.  Not that bitter 97% cacao shit, but just a simple dark chocolate.  They sell them at a grocery store in a town where my husband works.  He commutes to work every day and this grocery store is HUGE and has low prices, so he sometimes stops on the way home and picks up items we need.  My candy bars of awesomeness are normally specially priced at two for a dollar.  Pretty cheap in today’s market.  Well, he saw that they were THREE FOR A DOLLAR on super, super clearance and he picked me up a couple.

Yes, I consider thirty to be ‘a couple.’  If you’ve been following along, you’ll know we’re hoarders and stock up on sale items.  This is 2019 and it’s virtually unheard of to get a solid full sized chocolate bar for 35 cents.  My husband loves me very much and knew I would freak out at such a candy windfall.  Some people have a tendency to eat a whole bag of chips, a whole package of cookies, etc.  I am not one of them.  I have no problem at all eating half a candy bar per day.  I tend to be a creature of habit and do most things in moderation.  (Except for complain.  I complain often and very vocally.  It’s who I am!)  So it’s all good.

Ahem.  Back to the original story.

[cue some more sinister music because we’re getting to the bad part]

I always eat dessert first, because there’s a .000001 percent chance I might somehow die while eating the main course.  Hey, it could happen.  So I bit into my candy bar while spreading the peanut butter on the bread for my sandwich.  (No, I do not eat jelly.  It’s strictly peanut butter on both slices of bread.  That’s how I roll.)

I’m happily chewing away, but then I notice that the bar has a strange consistency like that of a nestle crunch.  Something is crunchy.  What the hell is this abomination?  It’s a PLAIN DARK CHOCOLATE BAR with no add-ins.

I forced myself to spit the candy bar into my hand for a further examination.  When I use the word ‘forced’ it’s only because I had a two second internal debate beforehand.

“Do I really need to spit this out?  It takes good.”

“The candy bar is not supposed to crunch, asshole.  Spit it out!”

Lo and behold, upon further inspection, there is a white chunk of something mixed in with the chewed up candy bar comfortably resting in the palm of my hand.

Can you guess what it is?

If you said, “It’s a chunk of your tooth, genius!” then you were absolutely correct.

Let me further explain that these candy bars are of the highest quality ingredients, very thick, and very dense.  They are not soft bars at all.  Yet that fact does not stop me from jamming them into my mouth like I haven’t eaten in a week.

So, I saw the tooth chunk, immediately knew what it was and why it had broken off from the hardness of the bar, and began a tongue exploration of my mouth.

Fuck.  A pea sized chunk of my upper back molar had broken right off.  Did it hurt?  No.  Was I in any pain at all?  No.  Did I realize I was totally fucked?  Absolutely.  The tooth had a jagged edge and I knew I couldn’t just pretend nothing had happened and go on with my life.

I called the dentist.  Let me also explain that I hadn’t been to the dentist in nine years.  Yet, strangely enough, I had to go last month for a baby tooth root that was stuck in my sinus.  (After closer inspection, it doesn’t need to be removed.  I thought I was home free and done with the dentist for another nine years.  This is sadly not the case anymore!)  The dentist could get me in that same day, but I made an appointment for a few days later with the excuse of needing time to mentally prepare.

The next step was to call my husband.  I usually call him on his cell phone at work roughly once every two months.  Therefore, a call from me means something catastrophic happened.

“Hi, I’m okay but I’m really upset.  I chipped my tooth!”

(Whenever I call someone at an odd time, I always start with, “I’m okay,” lest they think I’m dying and freak out in a panic.  However, as soon as I start with “I’m okay,” they usually know there’s a ‘but’ coming after that statement.  The objective is to simply let them know it’s not an emergency and no one is near death.)

I explained what happened and told my husband I was never eating one of those candy bars again.  I have about twenty-seven of them left.  Naturally his first response was, “Yes, you ARE eating the rest of those!”

He proceeded to tell me that I probably needed a crown, he’s had several, and I’d be fine.  After googling crowns (I never had one!) and deciding it was probably serious, I changed the dentist appoint to a few hours later.  The guy filed down the jagged edges and scheduled me for a crown next week.  Crowns are not cheap, but we have some coverage from dental insurance, so it’s not as bad as it could be.  That’s beside the point.

What’s the point then?

I decided I’m never eating hard food again.  You can take apples, pretzels, and candy bars right off my list of foods I like.  Upon later thought, I added cucumbers and carrots to the list.  Peanuts should be on there, too.  The list is ever-growing by the second.  I had French fries for supper and some of them had crispy edges.  This sparked another internal debate.

“These French fries have crispy ends that are probably totally dangerous for my fragile old-lady teeth.”

“So you’re not going to eat another French fry for the rest of your life?  You’re forty-two, dumbass!  That’s not even an option!”

“Valid argument.  I’ll just try and remember to be really, really careful when eating fries in the future.”

We’re almost to the end of the blog post, but I need to mention one more tiny detail that really pisses me off and literally adds insult to injury.  Even though I specifically put my tooth chunk on the kitchen table under a note that said, “Chipped my tooth,” the lazy rotten Tooth Fairy didn’t leave me one dime for the thing!  Uppity bitch just left it sitting there as though it wasn’t good enough for her.  Of all the nerve!!!

Have a great week and please be careful.  It’s a dangerous world out there.

Til next time!

Grace

 

Happy Holidays and a Free Christmas Story…

Hello everyone and Happy Holidays!

Tis the season to spread cheer, make merry, and eat way too many fattening foods while pretending that holiday calories don’t count.

In honor of the season of giving, I decided to make my Christmas short story FREE on Amazon from December 10-14th.  If you have any desire to get in a holiday mood, please one-click away and meet Shawn and Rachel.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0776XGNKT

The Christmas Present from my Past…

Prepared to be alone for the biggest holiday of the year, Rachel’s life takes a dramatic turn when she bumps into her old high school crush while volunteering at a charity meal on Christmas Eve.

Once Shawn recognizes the sweet, shy girl from his sophomore year Chemistry class, he realizes she’s all grown up…but the chemistry between them is still hotter than ever.

Is the past a faded memory in the rear view mirror…or can these two lonely souls come together for one remarkable holiday hook-up? Perhaps Rachel’s greatest Christmas present will come from her past…

Author’s Note: This is a 15,500 word Christmas story that has a guaranteed happy ending, a steamy encounter between the main characters, and a heaping spoonful of holiday cheer. 

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If you’re not satisfied with one new story, how about some more?

1) Sharing is Caring by Lola Blackburn….FREE on Amazon.

I’m actually in a facebook group with the author and I downloaded her book for free.  Let me tell you…this is one HOT story.  If you’re in the icy throes of December and need something sizzling to warm you up, this will definitely do the trick.  It’s actually the first hotwife story I’ve ever read and the author does a wonderful job.

https://www.amazon.com/Sharing-Caring-HOTWIFE-MENAGE-short-ebook/dp/B077LZ2LDZ

From hot nurse to hotwife…

Melissa felt guilty as sin, fantasizing about taking her husband’s best friend for a ride. When she discovers her husband shares her fantasy, and is encouraging her to sleep with another man, she wonders… What’s in it for him?

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Falling for his angel: a Rockstar Romance by Megan Hetherington…99 Cents on Amazon.

There was some amazing rock music in the eighties, and that’s where this story starts.

Jonny has natural talent and is effortlessly cool. He can have his pick of girls in London, but that’s not enough.
Whilst trying to make it in the rock world he falls for Dutch rock singer, Eliza. She’s more experienced than him and he has to win her over. Does he succeed?

A steamy, angsty romance with characters and places that will live on in your heart.

Set in some of the best rock and roll hang outs on the planet.

https://www.amazon.com/Falling-his-ANGEL-Rock-Romance-ebook/dp/B07CQ22M9N

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Releasing Rage by Cynthia Sax    FREE on Amazon

Half Man. Half Machine. All Hers.
Rage, the Humanoid Alliance’s most primitive cyborg, has two goals–kill all of the humans on his battle station and escape to the Homeland. The warrior has seen the darkness in others and in himself. He believes that’s all he’s been programmed to experience.
Until he meets Joan.
Joan, the battle station’s first female engineer, has one goal–survive long enough to help the big sexy cyborg plotting to kill her. Rage might not trust her but he wants her. She sees the passion in his eyes, the caring in his battle-worn hands, the gruff emotion in his voice.
When Joan survives the unthinkable, Rage’s priorities are tested. Is there enough room in this cyborg’s heart for both love and revenge?

Releasing Rage is a dark BBW Cyborg SciFi Romance.

https://www.amazon.com/Releasing-Rage-Cyborg-Sizzle-Book-ebook/dp/B00ZOL1DRO


That’s all for today…I’ve got to get caught up with the holiday festivities.  There are presents to wrap, decorations to put out, and food to make!

Have a wonderful holiday season and don’t forget the true meaning behind it all:  spending time with loved ones and enjoying the wonder of the holidays.

Til next time!

Grace

Down the rabbit hole…

Hello everyone!  I hope this newsletter/blog post finds you well and not overwhelmed by the holidays.  It seems like forty-two seconds after the trick-or-treaters have left with the Halloween candy, it’s suddenly time for Christmas.  Trees and decorations are prominently displayed in the store, special sales spring up around every corner begging me to spend my dollars on their low, low prices, and the season is upon us in full force.

It freaks me out.  Time seems to pass faster the older I get.  This year I’m only exchanging gifts with two people and it feels quite liberating.

Okay, in the interest of full disclosure, one of those ‘people’ is a dog and therefore it’s not actually a gift exchange since she’s not buying me anything.

I greatly dislike the pressure/stress of “what do you want for Christmas?”  “I don’t know, what do YOU want?” and the rush to come up with the perfect gift for people who just buy whatever they want all year long anyway.   I’m looking forward to this new ‘downsizing’ attitude of not wasting money on junk that people don’t really need anyway.

But I’ve gone off topic, as I’m fond of doing.  Today’s blog post involves ‘going down the rabbit hole.’

What am I talking about?  Anytime I go online to look for something, I usually end up spending precious time browsing around for other things totally not related to my initial search.  I fall down the rabbit hole and keep going deeper and deeper until I forget what I came for.

Take last week for example.  I had to do an author takeover in a Facebook reader group.  I went online for a few minutes to search for takeover games.  This turned into an hour on Pinterest finding graphic teasers of really deep questions.  But I didn’t just find one, I found about twenty of them!  So if you’re in my reader group, prepare yourself for an onslaught of weekly questions!

Ah, hell.  Let’s do one right now.

worst movie game

As soon as I saw this question, I started to laugh.  It brought back a fond memory of one of the first dates I went on with my husband.  I think our very first date involved going out to dinner somewhere, but our second date landed us at the movie theater.

We hadn’t really known each other well at all, since we met through mutual friends, and neither of us wanted to be the one to pick the movie lest we upset the other.

So we decided on ‘The English Patient.’  In case you’re unfamiliar with this movie, or you can’t remember back to 1996, let me refresh your memory with the synopsis:

The sweeping expanses of the Sahara are the setting for a passionate love affair in this adaptation of Michael Ondaatje’s novel. A badly burned man, Laszlo de Almasy (Ralph Fiennes), is tended to by a nurse, Hana (Juliette Binoche), in an Italian monastery near the end of World War II. His past is revealed through flashbacks involving a married Englishwoman (Kristin Scott Thomas) and his work mapping the African landscape. Hana learns to heal her own scars as she helps the dying man.

Let me first explain that I like horror movies with zombies, romantic comedies, action adventure suspense shoot-em-ups, and not much else.  I do not like historical love affairs, anything too thought provoking, or anything requiring me to read a subtitle.

Yeah, I’m a simple girl with simple tastes.  I drink beer, not wine.  I like to read humorous books and try to avoid anything with ‘all the feels.’

I think ‘The English Patient’ got a lot of buzz and might have even won some awards.  So my date (who is now my husband) must have suggested we go see the movie.  Maybe he was trying to impress me.  I don’t remember.

We went to the movie, he paid, and we took our seats.  I might have asked him what the movie was about and he probably replied that he wasn’t exactly sure but the reviews were good.

I believe we went into it with no expectations.

Let me tell you that it sucked so bad I wanted to fall asleep.

I honestly don’t remember much about the plot except that I hated the movie.  Some of the thoughts running through my head were…

“Why is this so awful?”

“Why is this so fucking long?”

“Is this almost over?”

“I don’t even understand what’s happening right now.”

“If my date actually likes this movie, I might have to end things.”

The move was 162 minutes long, which is about fifteen hours if you do the math.  Okay, not really, but it felt like it.

After the dud finally ended and the credits rolled, I turned to my date and asked, “What did you think of that?”

He said, “Um…it was…really, really…dumb.”

Obviously I married him.  We have the same taste in movies, which is one of the important foundations for a lasting relationship!  Trust, respect, loyalty, and great communication are important too.

So, dear reader, now that you know my answer… what is YOUR worst movie ever and why?

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Ah, if you’re looking for some new stories to fill your kindle, let me make a few suggestions….

Free on Amazon for a limited time only… Unorthodox Therapy by Lilah Noir.

lilah

She was his boss at work and his submissive at all times.
LINA
I’d never noticed him before.
He was just a lonely, scared boy when I hired him.
I was too busy to notice the lust in his eyes.
Now I’m at his feet begging for every bit of pleasure and pain he’ll unleash on me.
THOMAS
She enthralled me.
Her body. Her mind. Her wicked laughter and unreadable eyes.
She was out of my league yet I knew what she longed for.
I only had two months to kill her nicotine addiction and make her crave me.
I’d use every trick I had to claim her as mine.
WARNING! This book is intended for mature audiences. It contains scenes of BDSM, rough language, as well as non-sexual violence. The book is part 1 of a trilogy. All the characters are over 18 years old. Please, read the Warning at the front part of the book before you decide to purchase it. 

I have not read this book, but I read the prequel, Unorthodox Dom.  The author writes very steamy sex scenes and her stories are well written.

https://www.amazon.com/Unorthodox-Therapy-Trilogy-Book-ebook/dp/B01H49EHGM

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99 Cents on Amazon…Someone to come back to by Roisin Black.

roisin

Lieutenant John Sullivan of the U.S. Navy SEALs is used to control in all things and especially when it comes to love. He has one rule.
DO. NOT. GO. THERE.
A recent mission gone wrong sees him seeking refuge at his cabin in the Adirondack wilderness, a place where he goes to deal with the things he has to do as part of his job.
Dr. Maggie O’Brien, Senior Trauma Surgeon at Hillview hospital, New York is dedicated to saving the lives of her patients, leaving her little time for anything resembling a personal life.
When it comes to love she has one belief.
NO. TIME. FOR. THAT.
A work related crisis sees her fleeing New York for the seclusion of the Adirondacks where her burnt-out body and weary soul crave solitude .
The last thing John Sullivan wants whilst he tries to deal with the emotional aftermath of his last mission is the distraction of a fiery red-head with curves that would tempt a saint.
The last thing Maggie O’Brien wants as she finally takes some time to examine her life is to deal with her body’s unwelcome response to the bossy, over-bearing man who rescued her in the woods and who drives her crazy in every way.
Soon, though, each realizes the other may not be what they want but what they need.
However, ghosts from the past and shocking events from the present shake John to his core and lead him to make a fateful decision that may just cause him to lose the woman he loves, forever.

I won a copy of this book in a contest and I was instantly captivated with the hero.  He’s all alpha male and will definitely make you swoon.  This story has all the feels and is also quite well written.

https://www.amazon.com/Someone-Come-Back-Security-Military-ebook/dp/B01E25PE86

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99 Cents on Amazon…The Fractured Empire by Robin Mahle

fractured

The Ceithren Empire is finally at peace, but for two very different people, the world is still upside down.

For Adelaide, her sister’s death has left a gaping void. The one thing she believes will dull the pain is to take the only piece of her sister she has left to the place they’d sworn they’d go together — the Ever Falls, a natural wonder that splits the world in two. But the journey is perilous and not everyone who seeks the Ever Falls survives.

Clark never imagined his father would be blamed for the Silent Explosion. Now, he must find a way to clear his family’s name. As a member of an activist group, he’s ready to steal a powerful amulet in exchange for the chance to interrogate a Professor of the Empire. Brash and maybe a little too confident, Clark embarks on a mission that puts his own life at risk.

But Clark isn’t the only one after the amulet.

When the ancient artifact attaches itself to Adelaide, essentially painting a target on her back, Clark and Addie’s worlds collide. Tensions rise as they work together to stay alive… and resist the temptation to kill each other before their enemies have the chance.

I have not read this, but the steampunk aspect intrigued me and the cover looks awesome.

https://www.amazon.com/Fractured-Empire-World-Apart-Book-ebook/dp/B07H46ZMSX

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$2.99 on Amazon….Chasing the Bodyguard by Grace Risata

chasing the cover

During a road trip gone wrong, will a stubborn bodyguard keep things strictly professional…or surrender to the advances of his seductive boss?

I have read this story several times (because I wrote it) and am very familiar with the characters.  Is it against the rules to pimp your own book in your own newsletter?  I have no idea, but I’m doing it anyway!

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07K662ZS8

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There you have it folks.  That’s all for today.  I look forward to your tales of woe regarding movies that made you wish you could have the two hours of your life back.

Have a great weekend and you’ll hear from me soon!

Grace