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An open letter to my readers:

You had me at, “Where’s the third book?”

photo2 for 9_12_17 blog postEarlier this year, I made a slightly impulsive decision to leave my day job and write full-time. The decision to actively pursue my full-time writing dream was spurred by two things: 1) a sincere and complete dissatisfaction with my job, and 2) the accomplishment of putting together enough money to provide a meager allowance for ten months. I felt sure that if I wrote full-time and finished my trilogy, then cranked out an installment of my cozy mystery series each month, I could support my family. I was wrong.

Because even though I republished my debut novel, “Building Celebration House,” on March 1st, nobody noticed. I think I sold maybe 10 copies in March. But that was okay, I told myself, because the second book, “Stay at Celebration House,” would be the spark to light up my career. Wrong. Again. I sold even fewer copies in April.

As March waned, so did my meager savings. I submitted my book, “A Year with Geno” to Harlequin and hoped, prayed, that they would accept it, and thus provide me an advance that would carry my family through this financial dry spell. Nope. Harlequin editors asked that I make revisions and resubmit it. For me, that was the death rattle for my dream of writing full-time.

Now, things were getting scary around my household. And though my spouse has always been extremely supportive of my writing, even he admitted I needed to return to work. So, I started job hunting, and lo and behold, I was offered a full-time job, which I started the Tuesday after Memorial Day.

I’d had quite enough of the starving artist life, thank you very much. So, I stopped writing. I like to think of the analogy of Waldorf salad. Have you ever eaten Waldorf salad? It’s a combination of apples, celery, grapes and pecans, usually with a mayonnaise dressing. When I was a little girl, I loved my mother’s Waldorf salad until one summer evening, when after eating too much, I was sick. After that experience, I never – I mean NEVER – ate Waldorf salad. I still don’t.

So, this was how I felt about my writing. It let me down. It gave me the illusion that I could support myself and my family. But I couldn’t. Bills piled up; creditors started calling. And every morning, I woke up at 4 a.m. with worry. What had I done? How could I have been so irresponsible to leave my full-time job?

The third book – “Return to Celebration House” – stalled and faltered. It was supposed to be published on May 1st. I couldn’t finish it. I was too busy looking for a day job. When my family and I moved, I didn’t unpack my office. Writing was something I used to do. Now, my mission was to learn this new day job and be successful in it. No more perusing reviews left by readers or checking my Amazon sales rankings. Those days were over. Or so I thought.

Because even though I gave up on my writing, my readers did not. And they still haven’t.

On May 7th, an advertisement for my novel, “Building Celebration House,” was sent out in a BookBub promotion. BookBub is a website where authors offer their books at discount prices to reach readers interested in specific genres. My genre is romantic comedy or women’s fiction. It took me three years of submitting to hear a yes from BookBub. I offered the first book in my trilogy for free; more than 40,000 readers downloaded it. Sales of the second book, “Stay at Celebration House,” soared. Reviews poured in.

And readers began doing what I wanted them to do for so many years: they began writing to me. Some were just short notes, thanking me for sharing my book. Some were longer, and they moved me to tears. Every day, my in-box would have a couple of emails from readers. I received one just a few days ago from a reader in Wisconsin. I print them and pin them to my bulletin board. They are vivid reminders of where my focus should be: inviting readers to come and play in the imaginary world I created on the outskirts of Lexington, Missouri. Nearly all of the emails ask one thing: where’s the third book?

I’m humbled by the women (and a few men) who took the time to write to me. You guys, well, you’re just amazing.

I’ll close now because I haven’t written my minimum quota of words yet today, and I’ve got a book to finish. And then? Well, maybe I’ll dream up a title for the fourth book…

Hands and arms inside the cart: Doing the work.

God bless,

Annette

Annette's blog

Thank you!

Hey, guys.
I just wanted to say a sincere thank you to the many readers who have emailed me or posted a comment on my blog. I so appreciate your passion for the characters of Celebration House! I’m glad you enjoy the books and amazed at how fast you read them. Seriously. You all read fast!
Return to Celebration House was originally scheduled to publish on May 1st. But Melanie and I had some challenges. Let’s be honest: she’s not the easiest person to get along with. (I’m just kidding).
We’re making great progress now, and my plan is to publish the book at the end of May. And yes, Nook and iBook readers, it will be available on your devices. (I learned that the hard way!)
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you, and again, thank you so much for your praise and enthusiasm.
Annette

Annette's blog

And the results are in…

Hey, guys.
I’ve been crowing and crowing about the BookBub promotion that ran yesterday, so I thought perhaps I should share some results. About 23,000 readers grabbed a copy of Celebration House!
I’ve already heard from a few readers: where’s the third book? So, here I am, at 5:15 a.m., working on Return to Celebration House.
To be honest, it’s hard to get excited about writing a third book when no one reads the first two! Much easier when you have two emails first thing in the morning with the question: where’s the third book?
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Grateful: party of one.

Annette's blog

BookBub promotion starts tomorrow!

Hey, guys.
I just wanted to send a quick reminder that Building Celebration House will be featured tomorrow in a BookBub promotion. It’s currently priced at FREE!
Free is good, right?
So far, more than 900 readers have downloaded it. Reviews have begun to trickle in, including a five-star left yesterday. Thank you.
All of which makes me say: YIPPEE!

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Spotlight/Review: Building Celebration House (The Celebration House Trilogy Volume 1), by Annette Drake

Promoting Building Celebration House today, just three days before the next book hits the streets. Stay at Celebration House premiers on April 1st. No fooling.

Paranoramal Romance News and Reviews

4 out of 5 Stars

Available For Purchase On:

Amazon    Nook    Kobo    Smashwords

Review:

This is a wonderful and sweet story about ghosts, going for a simpler life. A great read and making changes.

Reviewed by Romantic Renay

Our Blog was given this book in exchange for an honest review.

Description:

Carrie Hansen spent her life caring for cardiac patients. Little did she know she would become a patient herself.

After recovering from her own heart surgery, she learns she has a special talent: the ability to see and talk with the dead.

Now, with her health failing, she leaves the bustle of Seattle behind and returns to Lexington, Missouri, the small town where she spent her childhood. Here, she sets out to restore an abandoned antebellum mansion and open it as a venue for celebrations.

Carrie’s unique gift allows her to build relationships with the mansion’s…

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Annette's blog

Bring it, mountain

Yesterday, I attended a writing seminar near Seattle. An editor from Harlequin, Susan Litman, spent most of a day telling authors how Harlequin could help them become hybrid superstars, which is to say writers who both self-publish their works, as I do, and sign a contract with Harlequin to publish their work.
I really wanted to attend this seminar; I really didn’t want to drive there.
You see, I live in eastern Washington state. The conference was held in Seattle. Between them and me is a mountain range. And it’s February. And we’re enjoying a robust winter with lots of snow and ice.
I left Friday morning about 8:30. I made it to Seattle shortly before 3 p.m. Not too bad. The mountain pass was mainly just wet. But, all day yesterday, I watched the state cameras and saw this message: “Eastbound I-90: Chains required.”
I have never put chains on a car. I didn’t even own a pair of chains until yesterday afternoon when I went to a Les Schwab and bought a pair. The salesgirl – and I’m using the word “girl” because I’m pretty sure she was twenty years my junior – made it look so easy. You just wrap the chains around the tire. Snap here, here and here, and voila, you are road ready! (Just don’t go faster than 30 mph).
My plan was to enjoy the writing seminar and then start the 300-mile drive home. But by mid-afternoon, they had closed the highway due to heavy snows and, my favorite, avalanches. My anxiety only grew.
So, I stayed another night at the hotel, spending the evening at a Barnes & Noble and shopping at my favorite Seattle grocery store, Whole Foods. And my anxiety grew.
Last night, I studied a map of Washington and looked for a way to get from the hotel to home without crossing the mountain pass. No problem. Just drive south on Highway 5, turn left at Oregon and drive east to Richland, then a few more hours of driving north to Spokane. No problem. Except the 300-mile trip becomes a 550-mile trip. The five hours of driving becomes nearly nine hours of driving. Oh, and the Seattle news station kept showing this amazing footage of semi-trucks skidding out of control on ice just north of Portland. So, my long detour offered no guarantee of safety.
This morning, I awoke about 3:30 a.m. Insomnia has its uses. I was completely awake and just dreading this drive. So, I checked out of the hotel and at 4 a.m., sitting in my car in the parking lot, I made a decision: I would face this mountain. Whatever it had to dish out, I would take it. Bring it, mountain!
I hit the worst part of the pass about 5 a.m. The few cars on the road at that time had pulled off to the right and the drivers began to put on chains. I did the same. Did I put on my own chains? Uh, no. A good Samaritan with a thick Hispanic accent put the chains on for me. But then I was off at a speed of 25 miles per hour, determined to put Snoqualmie Pass behind me. There were no cars behind me. Even fewer cars in the oncoming lanes. But mile by mile, I climbed that mountain. At one point I saw a state transportation worker. I slowed down and asked him if I needed to stop. He said, “You keep going, girl.” So I did. Further down the road, I realized the snow on the road was lessening. I pulled over at a gas station and took the chains off. By myself. No help. I found out later they closed the pass by 7 a.m. Too many wrecks.
I’m at home now, wearing my cozy pajamas and listening to my basset hound snore. But the sense of pride I feel for conquering Snoqualmie Pass is with me still. I did it! I told that mountain, “Not today, Mother Trucker!”
This reminds me of writing the first draft of a novel, which I’m struggling to do right now. The first book of my trilogy, Building Celebration House, is with the proofreader. I will make my deadline. But the second book, Stay at Celebration House, is giving me trouble. I can’t convince the heroine to do what I need her to do – forgive her cheating ex and accept his marriage proposal. She’s fighting me. But in order to give her the satisfying final scene I want for both she and the readers, she must do this. Just like I must get over that mountain. And we’re gonna get there, she and I. One mile or word at a time.
Hands and arms inside the cart: Rebuilding Celebration House