Old is New Again

A strange thing happened yesterday, one that has me scratching my head in puzzlement.  Sunday afternoon, I was piddling around and had the urge to check on sales rankings on my books.  I hadn’t checked in several days because they had been steadily falling over the last month and honestly, I sort of forgot about checking.

Around 2 p.m. I pulled up my stats and expected to see the trend to be downward. Imagine my shock to see not just one but four of my books were experiencing an upward trend. Out of them, Protecting Joselyn looked to be the biggest jump so I decided to investigate closer.

The last time I checked Joselyn, it was showing in the sixties as far as Kindle World Romance and somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000(ish) overall.  Yesterday it had taken a huge leap to 11 in Kindle World Romance and 767 overall.

Over the course of the next few hours, I continued to watch as she slowly crept up the ladder until around four this  morning, I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer.  I took a screen shot and passed out.  At that time she had peaked at number 2 and had pushed her overall number to 349.

New Surge Comparison

As you can see from the above captures, she has surpassed her original new release.  She has also surpassed every release I’ve ever had.

This morning when I got up, she had slid back to 3rd.  I don’t know if she will go back up.  I don’t know if she will finally touch that number 1 spot.  If she does, ya’ll will probably hear it where you are.

I have no idea what spawned this surge but I know it wouldn’t have happened without my friends and readers.  So thank you, from the bottom of my heart.  Ya’ll did this – not me and I love you for giving me this.

Until next time – Stay safe and read on!

MelissaSign

April Updates

Good morning, Crew!
April has hit and things are slipping into higher gear. Saturday is fast approaching for my meet and greet at Meridian Art Walk. The weather is being a bit surly but I’m planning on going as of right now. I do have a pavilion tent but if it’s a blowing rain, I won’t risk ruining my books. Stay tuned  as we continue to watch the weather updates.
 
The push to reach 500 Facebook likes is still going strong. Remember, invite your friends to like my page. Once we hit 500, I’ll be doing a random giveaway of a super mega prize pack containing all sorts of goodies including swag, autographed books you can’t buy anywhere and more!
 
In case you are wondering, and according to the influx of messages the last couple of weeks, many of you are, Cowboy’s story is coming along well. I’m almost at the halfway mark! Those who have been a part of the crew here know I like to slip in teasers from time to time and one is coming soon. Yes, everyone’s favorite smartass ladies man, Toad, will be making an appearance in here as well. He’s behaving at the moment, but we all know that’s subject to change at any time.
 
What does murder and a mysterious, antique music box have in common?
Last month I finished a new novella titled Harmony in the Key of Murder. It’s something completely different and new from me. There are no Navy SEALs anywhere to be found, but there is a protective, hot alpha male detective involved. When we get closer to publication date, I’ll give you more particulars including a sneak preview!  I loved writing this one – Harmony and Hunter’s story was awesome and I think it’s going to be one of my favorites of all time. According to my ARC readers, they agree. I can’t wait for you to devour this one!
 
The last book in my Luna’s Children series, Lorestone: The Strength Within, is almost though the re-editing process. The extremely talented, Rebekkah Smith, will be furnishing the new cove for this one as well. It has been a long, drawn out process to get these books updated, but the result has been a much smoother offering.I hope you like them.
 
I will be opening up my Brigade group soon for new members. The Beta Brigade is a group of people who are part of my think tank. I ask questions, run scenarios and get my ARC readers from it. I’m always looking for sharp minds who enjoy discussing stories and giving honest feedback on topic and issues. If you are interested in the Beta Brigade, shoot me a message in Facebook.
 
Once I finish with Cowboy and Miley’s story, (which is still untitled) I’ll be taking a tiny break from the Cerberus series to work on an idea that has been beating at my mind for a few months now. Don’t worry, there will be hot guys, sassy girls and a lot of suspense and action. I’ll post more on this endeavor when I get closer to it.
 
I’d like to take a moment to give a shout out to all of my readers out there. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for the support you’ve given me. I couldn’t possibly be where I am now without your help. You give me the drive to keep going. I’m grateful and honored that you spend your valuable time with me in my world.
 
Time to get back to work. Miley is about to get into deep hot water and I need to see how Cowboy is going to get her out.
Until next time, be safe and be strong!
MelissaSign

Peeking at 2018

2018 is turning out to be an exciting year.  As  you already probably know, Rescuing Annabeth was released in January.  She started out very slow but has taken off in a big way since – skyrocketing to number 3 in Kindle Worlds and almost 2 months later still is in the top 10.  You guys did that for me. YOU.  I haven’t enough words to express my gratitude.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

This is the year of a few firsts for me as well.  In addition to returning to the Meridian Art Walk on April 8, I’ll be trying a few bigger venues also.  I’ve applied to the Mississippi Book Festival in Jackson in August and hope to be at Voodoo Lake Signing in New Orleans in November.  It’s a huge step for me and an uncomfortable one as well.  So grateful for my wonderful family, Robert and Rebecca, for supporting me and making my dreams come true.

Speaking of dreams, 2017 was a big release year for me. In June, I released Protecting Joselyn which did extraordinarily well.  That was followed by Saving Olivia in September and my first journey into collaboration with Defending Demma in the anthology Can’t Buy Me Love.  I also revamped Shattered Dreams  complete with new artwork provided by a very talented young local artist.  Considering I had only put out four books prior to 2017, that was a huge feat and my most successful year to date.

2018 is shaping up to be as busy if not more so.

As mentioned before, Rescuing Annabeth was release in January.  In February, I wrote a novella for another anthology that is as yet, unnamed. The theme is “summer” and will feature stories by several extremely talented authors.  I am honored by be allowed to present with them.  Unlike Defending Demma, this offering will not be connected to my Team Cerberus series. Harmony in the Key of Murder is a complete stand alone but already I can see where there could be spin-offs.  This story is set in my hometown of Meridian, Mississippi.  It centers around a young woman named Harmony who attends college in California but returns home each summer to help her family with their antiques business.  One day, a woman brings in an ornate music box to be repaired.  A few days later, she is murdered in her home.  Enter our hero, a county sheriff investigator.  Hunter is a smoldering hot, alpha male and sets his sights on Harmony.  Unfortunately, he’s not the only one interested in her.  Now Hunter has to solve the murder and protect their budding romance.  It was fun to write and about drove me to distraction because Harmony didn’t want to be just a novella. I hit the dreaded word limit just as the action was starting. Thankfully, the publisher, Inkspell, was extremely understanding and let me fudge a bit. I was able to finish it out in just under 25,000 words and I think it reads well. I’m proud of the story and hope you will like her as much as I do.

Currently, I’m working on the fourth story in my Team Cerberus series. This one will be about Alcide “Cowboy” Montgomery and Veterinarian Miley Ellison.  They will have troubles.  They will have danger, but of course they will have love and a happily ever after.  I don’t have a definite release date yet, but I’m hoping for late spring / early summer.  I’ve learned to not put hard deadlines on myself as I get a little sassy and ignore them.  The story comes as the story comes and I can only force my stubborn muse so much before he says NO MORE. (If you haven’t learned about Rufus, my muse, check out my blog about him Meet Rufus. He is an ornery old cuss, but we have been able to come to a mutual agreement – at least for now.)

I haven’t ever been a planster when I write. I’m more of a pantster.  For those that don’t know what that means – a planster is a writer who plans out their story complete with storyboards, outlines and arcs.  A pantster writes by the seat of their pants – not really planning anything out. I know where I start, I know where I end.. its all the little parts in between that give me heartburn. Because of this, I don’t make huge plans on when to release new stories.  I understand that a lot of authors will know when every new book is coming out months in advance. That amazes me. (For me, it’s almost like a surprise… oh, wow, I’ve finished.  Cool.)  Having said that, though, I am wanting to finish out the Cerberus series this year.  I would like to see Cowboy’s story in May, Finch in August, Railroad in October and Toad bringing up the rear in December.   I’m also wanting to start a new series that I’ve been knocking around in my mind the last few months and another book centered in Mississippi.  It’s obvious that I can’t do all of that  without driving myself nuts in the process so I’ll be happy if I can get six releases this year (counting the two I’ve already finished).  That would be 2 more than last year.  I can do it.

Maybe?

I guess that means I need to get back to it then.  Cowboy’s story is coming along – I won’t say how far I am into it, because it’s not nearly as far as I would like to be at this point.  However, it is coming along.

In the meantime, stay safe.  Stay sane.  And above all stay your wonderful selves.  Until next time …

MelissaSign

 

Antici………………pation

I’ve been told that the having of something is not as great as the anticipation.  I’m not sure if I really believe that.  As a person, I want what I want and when I want it.  This is the reason I am broke most of the time – I am extremely impatient!

So thus my books as well.

June 2017 I made the decision to write a novel in a kindle world.  I chose Operation Alpha because I so loved the characters and the stories in the original series, Seal of Protection.  That book, Protecting Joselyn, went on to be my best book to date staying in the top ten for six weeks.  It stayed mostly in the 8-9 range with the occasional pop back up to six or seven.  The last two weeks it would briefly dip into the 11-12 area for a few hours and I would think, ok, this is it. However, she would rebound again much to my delight.

Foolishly, I thought that having such a kick would garner enough attention that I could forego Kindle Worlds for my second book, Saving Olivia. KW books are controlled by Amazon and aren’t offered outside the US as well as not available to be sold in print. Thinking that I was doing what was best for my brand and my book,  I proudly published it in September hoping it would take off as well.

Didn’t happen. Yes, it did have a tiny little pop on it’s first three days but maxed out in the 50s. I was disappointed.

It’s been said that Olivia is much darker, more intense than Joselyn and not everyone’s cup of tea.  I admit, human trafficking is a hard subject to handle so I tried to remain optimistic. However, a thought wormed its way into my brain … Maybe there is no success without riding on the coattails of a Kindle World. 

Harsh.

I decided to test this theory and put my next book in the Team Cerberus series back into Kindle World.  It was easy to do since I had already mentioned the antagonist in the other books and Annabeth was introduced in Joselyn. What came out was quirky, fun and just enough suspense to keep you on your toes.  Yes, I’m proud of Annabeth. I think it’s one of my best offerings so far. Unfortunately, during Annabeth, my editor and I parted ways and I was left to get her ready on my own.  I was stressed but confident I had a great book.  Holding my breath, I sent my latest child out into the big bad world.

When I sent out Joselyn, I did so on an off week.  That means I published her outside of a large KW release.  For Annabeth, I tried the massive release route and joined 12 others on January 23.  On top of that, I had issues with Amazon holding back my book and so it wasn’t ready when the others were.  My book didn’t hit available until several hours after the others (they actually went live on the 22nd where Annabeth didn’t go until the afternoon of the 23rd).

I watched the sales figures for hours that first day, waiting to see lightening strike.  It didn’t.  She debuted in the top 100 Kindle World Romance but stalled out in the 80s.  I waited…

and waited…

and waited…

Finally, after 5 days, it occurred to me that I had my fifteen minutes of fame with Joselyn. She was my big moment and I was not going to see a repeat again.  I was washed up.  A has-been who never was.  Finished.  Kaput.

On the sixth day, I remembered I hadn’t checked her progress in hours and when I went there, I was shocked.

Rescuing Annabeth was at number 4.

Wait.  What happened?

I sat here with my mouth hanging open.  I waited an hour to see the refreshed list and if she was still at number 4. Nope.. number THREE…

The best Joselyn ever did was four and only for a couple of hours.

I felt elated.  Relieved. Vindicated.

Over the course of the next three weeks, I’ve watched my girl dig her nails into that top five spot and hang on for dear life.  She’s slipped a few time and fell to number eight a time or three, but always bounced back up into the top five.  It’s now been almost five weeks since her release and she’s still in the top five.

I haven’t seen the sales figures  yet for January since Kindle Worlds doesn’t show sales until thirty days later.  They will come out on Wednesday.  I’m not sure what I’m hoping to see since the sales weren’t that great the first week and only hit the last few days of January.  No matter the numbers, it’s a win because it restored my faith in my ability.

Now, I’m finishing out a story for another anthology.  Unlike the last one, Defending Demma, I won’t be pulling characters from my series.  This time, a shy awkward nerd and a hot alpha male cop work together to figure out a mystery and fall in love along the way. Harmony in the Key of Murder will be coming out in a few months.  Stay tuned here for more information.

On the Cerberus front, Claiming Miley (tentative title) will be coming out this summer.  It’ll be Cowboy’s story.  I’m probably going to put it back into KW again.  The only problem is the story I have in mind doesn’t have a clear “in” to the Operation Alpha world.  I’m sure by the time I get ready to start it, I’ll have a better idea.

In the meantime, I need to get back to it. Harmony and Hunter are about as impatient as I am.  They want their story done!

MelissaSign

 

 

 

 

Are those sirens I hear?

Ya’ll, I love writing stories that mix romance with suspense and intrigue.  There’s just something about overcoming a difficult situation to get to a HEA (Happily Ever After) that is deeply satisfying for me.  Like most things in life, if you have to work for something, then achieving it is more rewarding.  You will cherish it more.

Having said that, those of you who know me by now understand only too well my need to insert as much realism as possible into my stories.  The goal is not perfection, exactly, but it is to be believable at the least.  I know from personal experience, if I am reading a story or watching a movie and something happens that I KNOW is not right, it basically ruins it for me.  I’m unable to enjoy the rest because I’m too hyper aware of figuring out what else is wrong. I’m not talking about those offerings in the fantasy and sci-fi world but rather the ones that are touted as being based in reality.  I can forgive the small stuff – George Washington’s horse is black instead of gray?  I can live with that.  George Washington crossing the Mississippi instead of the Delaware – nope.  Can’t handle it. George Washington flying a UFO across America?  That one doesn’t bother me as much because it’s obviously a parody or a Sci-Fi take. (By the way, loved Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter!)

By now I’m thinking you are wondering what all my rambling on is about.  Well, the point is I believe in being reasonable with suspense of disbelief.  I know different people have different levels they can tolerate and I have to find a level that I am comfortable with.  In my Team Cerberus series, I have taken a few liberties but mostly I have followed the groundwork Susan Stoker laid in her Seal of Protection series as my guys live in her world.  I still do a lot of research while writing to make sure things that haven’t been established already are as realistic as possible.  It’s a fine line I walk.

That brings me to yesterday.

I’m currently working on a novella for another collaboration for Inkspell Publishing.  “Summer” is the theme for this one.  Unlike Defending Demma, my contribution to Can’t Buy Me Love last year, I’ve decided to make this one completely outside of my Team Cerberus universe. True to my nature, I can’t just have a summer romance, I have to throw in some intrigue, a little suspense and eh… let’s chunk a murder at it while we’re there.  I’ve decided to set this one in my own home turf as well – Meridian, Mississippi.

I began writing away and realized that all I knew about crime scenes was what I saw on Criminal Minds, NCIS, and Law & Order.  I hee-hawed back and forth for a while trying to decide if I would just bite the bullet and write what I thought it should be or if I needed to find out more.

Find out more, it is.

Google can only get you so far in life.  Don’t get me wrong, the world wide web is awesome for most things, but if the information isn’t OUT THERE, you can’t retrieve it.  What to do?

I called the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department.

Yep.  I called them big as you please, but the conversation was a little… uneasy.

The lady that answered the call was pleasant.  No doubt she was expecting just about anything other than me.  I had rehearsed in my mind what I was going to say but of course, that’s not how it came out.

Rehearsed:  “Hello, my name is Melissa and I am an author of romantic suspense novels.  I’m currently working on a piece that will take place in Lauderdale County and would like to find out some information about procedures regarding crime scene investigations.”

Actual: “Uh, hi.  I’m trying to find out some information about how murders are investigated and what you guys look for when you are working a case.” I took a breath and tried again. “My name is Melissa and I live in Meridian.  I write books and need some information about investigating a murder.”

Nailed it. Not.

The lady hesitated a moment and in this sort of unsure voice said, “Okay.  Let me have someone contact you.” She took my information and hung up.

Then it dawned on me.  I just called the po-po and basically asked them to investigate me for murder.

Face palm.

While butterflies dive-bombed my stomach, I went to Facebook and posted what I had done.  It was all in a joking type manner.  I asked for my friends to please call the sheriff’s department and assure them I really am a writer and not a closet sociopath if I happen to drop off the face of the Earth for a while – ie get arrested.  I got some laughs, a bit of advice but only one person assured me they would have my back (thanks Sister T!).  One friend even commented it would be great fodder for a future book but basically I would be on my own.  Thanks guys, love you too!

The short of it is Ward Calhoun from the Sheriff’s department did return my call within the hour.  Those of you who live in our area know he is the public relations person for the LCSD. I explained my situation to him and he very graciously explained procedure to me and answered my questions. Thank you, Mr. Calhoun for your invaluable help!

So, now I have what I need to carry on with the so far, unnamed novella.  Most of what I had supposed was correct but there are a few things that will need changing.  In the meantime, I dodged another bullet and added another item to my growing list of naughtiness. Now I’m a money laundering / terrorist/ human trafficking / drug cartel / murderer.  At least as far as my browser history dictates.  The life of a writer, right?  Who knew!

I’ll never be able to fly again…

On the other side – yes, Jackie, I do have an idea for a new story due to this incident.  We’ll have to see where it goes from here.

Until next time, ya’ll stay safe and on the good side of the law.  I would try to do the same but well, we are talking about me, right?

MelissaSign

Writer Dreams and Worthy Things

Do you have a dream?  Of course you do.  Everyone has dreams and I’m not talking about those you get at night when you sleep.  I’m speaking about those things you want – with everything in your heart.  For some, it could be a choice parking spot at work.  Others may want to go on a luxury vacation.  No matter what your dream is, you should work toward it.

I too, have dreams.  I’m living one of them now – I’m a writer.  This was a dream that stretches all the way back to my childhood.  I have always loved reading and wanted to be able to write stories.  Although I have been scribbling short stories, poems and assorted other literary items for years, I never attempted to publish them until I was in my 40’s.  Why?  Because I’m extremely insecure and a horrible introvert.

My biggest fear is that I will make a fool of myself.  I hated being bullied, picked-on, ridiculed and mocked in school. My friends were very few and I didn’t socialize well with others. Even with that personality trait, I still craved acceptance.  One time, I got the nerve up to ask a boy to a school dance.  I was in the 8th grade at the time.  He laughed at me.  Loudly.  I never asked another boy out again and I never attended a single school dance. Avoid the ridicule became my motto. The adult me knows it’s ridiculous to dwell on things in the past, but sometimes we can’t help who we are and what profoundly affects us.

That fear of being mocked has haunted me my entire life.  For some, embarrassment is a just another part of life.  Fall?  Laugh and get up.  Keep going.  For me, it’s a distinct possibility I could die of mortification, which really sucks because I’m about as graceful as a nearsighted rhino on a tightrope. It’s so bad that I can’t even watch television or movies where someone makes a fool of themselves.  I cringe and want to hide under something until it’s over. Made that a blushing, nearsighted rhino on a tightrope sharing space with the dust bunnies under my bed.

Rhino or not, I still have dreams.

Some people talk about their dreams as a “bucket list.”  I’ve seen a few friends share theirs so here’s mine in no particular order.

  1. Write a book and publish it
  2. Be traditionally published
  3. Write 6 books in one year (I’d settle for 5 books and a novella)
  4. Finish a series
  5. Do a book signing
  6. Do a national book signing
  7. Surpass 1000 likes on my author page in facebook
  8. Make it into the top 10 of some list
  9. Become a best seller
  10. Become a best seller for a national list (NYT, USA Today, Etc)
  11. Become an international best seller
  12. See my name when someone gets recommendations for a “new author to try out”
  13. Sell 5,000 copies  of one book in one year
  14. Sell 15,000 copies of any books in one year
  15. Be interviewed by a local news agency
  16. Hire a PA to take care of the business side of  MKC so I can write without stress
  17. Go on a writer’s retreat
  18. Go on a writer’s cruise with my favorite authors (though meeting some of them would probably be that whole rhino thing again.  I fangirl  much too easily!)
  19. Get a recommendation from one of my favorite authors about my stories
  20. Do a collaboration with one of my favorite authors

So there’s the condensed version of my bucket list.  I’ve managed to cross a few off. I have written 8 stories so far in 3 different genres.  I’ve been traditionally published (thank you Melissa Keir and Inkspell Publishing).  Last year I went to a local artist show and had my first book signing. Protecting Joselyn hit number 4 in Amazon Kindle World Romance in June 2019.

That is still a pretty big list to work through.  Thankfully, my wonderful honey has picked up the PA reigns somewhat and is helping me with some of the business side of this.  I’m so grateful for his help and for fixing my website issue yesterday.  I was on the verge of tearing my hair out!!

But I diverge…

So, what’s your dream?  Do you have a bucket list?  I’ve heard a few people talk about being too old to start a new dream.  That’s bull.  I was 45 years old when I wrote and published my first book.  Now, at 50, I’m just starting to get into my stride.  Yes, it’s a long list but it’s not impossible.  One day, I’ll look at it and say – “Hey, I need a new list because this one is realized.”  When that day comes, I’ll keep going.  I add new, bigger and more ambitious items because my dream is worth it.

I’m worth it.

And so are you.

MelissaSign

 

Cover Reveal – Rescuing Annabeth

rescuing annabeth FINAL.png
Rescuing Annabeth, Team Cerberus book 2 will be released on January 23, 2018 as a part of Susan Stoker’s Kindle World. Special Thanks to Eva Talia for the awesome cover!

Rescuing Annabeth

The biggest book exposition of the year is just around the corner and literary agent Annabeth Switcher is feeling the pressure. Between babysitting her newest client hell-bent on making her miserable and taking care of the thousands of little things that require her attention, she doesn’t have time for a personal life. No matter how much a certain Navy Seal steals her attention.

Levi “Hick” Salter spotted the curvy redhead beauty at a friend’s wedding. She is vivacious, brassy and so full of life, he’s drawn to her like a moth to a flame. Even though they live on opposite sides of the country, their mutual attraction is too much to resist. Thus begins a long distance relationship for these “friends with benefits.” They can’t be more – he’s committed to his duty and she’s got her own life. Phone calls and the occasional meet up is the best they can hope for.

Then the Navy combines Hick’s team with the one headed by Matthew “Wolf” Steel to hunt down a terrorist cell intent on bring down Western culture. While Hick is out trying to save the world from fanatics, she’s concentrating on insuring her clients have a smooth convention. Neither knew their two worlds would collide so violently.

When the cell sets their sights on the literary exposition, Hick must rally the SEALs to save the day and his curvy bombshell. Nothing else matters but Rescuing Annabeth.