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One year ago today

Happy 1st Birthday!

CelebrationHouse_Book1One year ago today, I republished my debut novel, “Building Celebration House.” It’s the first in a trilogy.

The literary world did not go crazy. In fact, except for my immediate family, no one else noticed.  The promotions I paid for brought less-than-desired results. If I check my Amazon sales that month, March of 2017, I made about $30.

Two months later, I was accepted for a Bookbub promotion. And although my book was free, I “sold” 40,000 copies. That’s when the fun really began. Emails started pouring in. Readers of the first book bought the second and then clamored for the third. My author dream of readers writing to me came true. And those emails are still arriving.

Four weeks ago tomorrow, my family and I were side-swiped in a hit-and-run accident. Nobody was hurt. We returned home from filing a police report and notifying the insurance company. I felt beaten up, defeated.

But an email waited for me. Here’s what it said (please note I have not edited this in any way): HELLO! WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH THE THIRD BOOK?? SOON, I HOPE AND THEN I WOULD HOPE FOR MORE IN THIS SERIES!
THANK YOU

Those few lines brought me a whole lot of joy. That reader could not have picked a better time to write to me. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

I’m the mom of four kids. My youngest is 10; my oldest is 27 and expecting her first child. As great as the first year of kid-raising is, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Let’s be honest. Cool stuff happens in the first year, but really, it’s the beginning.

May that be true for Building Celebration House. May it be the first year of life, and an important one, but not necessarily the busiest.

Thank you again to all of the readers who have read my book and taken the time to write a review. And also, thank you so much to the readers who have written to me. Your emails are my treasures, a gift from you to me. Thank you.

Hands and arms inside the cart. Next, we go find Paul Stratton.

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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

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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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Bay Area Book Festival Defends Author Solutions Sponsorship

Fellow authors: stay clear of Bay Book Festival and even further from Author Solutions.

David Gaughran

BABFASI discovered yesterday that Author Solutions was sponsoring the inaugural Bay Area Book Festival – something at odds with the breathless verbiage on the event’s site:

A new kind of book fair… the largest, most innovative, and most inclusive… [we will] create the nation’s leading book festival.

The event doesn’t take place until June, so I thought it was a good time to try and stage an intervention.

After I sent that tweet I felt a little bad.

Maybe the organizers didn’t know the full history of Author Solutions. Maybe they weren’t aware of the specific scam that Author Solutions runs at events like this. Deciding to give them the benefit of the doubt, I emailed the Executive Director of the festival, Cherilyn Parsons.

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