HUSH, NOW FORGET Release Day

A year and a half ago, I was talking to my sister about what project I should tackle next. I’d written Our Sweet Guillotine, and felt like it would be good to work on a project that I could write more quickly. I LOVE historical, but historical fic takes me YEARS to write.

And then, lo and behold, a really cool idea hit me: Cammie (my sister) and I should write a sisters’ take on the CW’s Supernatural. I wanted something that could be explained really easily, so this seemed like the perfect idea.

Hush, Now Forget is a dual POV novel about Eva (written by Cammie) and Frost (written by me). What began to be a vaguely neat idea has ended up being such a fun project, because I’m always so excited to see what Cammie writes. Her talent for writing humor and dark action scenes makes my day!

The book is the first in a planned series. So buckle up and read an adventure for fans of Sam and Dean. 🙂

Professional Review from InD’Tale Magazine

I’ve wanted a professional review for ages, and am so excited about this one from InD’Tale Magazine. The reviewer seems to truly understand what I was trying to accomplish with the story. Enjoy!

Tempeste Guillotine lost her mother to the hangman’s noose. In a time of dissention and revolution, she seeks her own personal style of revenge on the streets of Paris. As she wages  war on her father for failing to save her mother, she chooses to live in squalor on the streets. Her only solace is in a convent visiting Sister Josephine. An old friend’s offer combined with a new friend’s appreciation leads our slightly demented protagonist on a journey of redemption with an unlikely ally – Gabriel Sanson, the executioner. 

This beautiful look at a frightening time in history opens the reader’s eyes to brilliant revelations: the fragility of the mind, the strength of family unity, the need for satisfaction in the form of revenge. Tempeste is a study in a broken mind. Although she needs to be healed, she must first exact revenge. As her dual personalities fight for supremacy they keep her teetering on the edge. Mary Gray’s attention to detail in crafting this character is superb. The quirks of a shattered mind are a delicate dance to perfect, and Ms. Gray has done it with aplomb! Deft character creation continues for  the entire ensemble, providing a rich tapestry of detail to the novel. The mixture of the mystery with history is well drawn out and leads  to a solid climax. The truly unique romance, blossoming as it does from vengeance, guilt and family allegiance, is heart rending. Adjusting to certain quirks in Tempeste’s character is the only issue that could potentially cause reader’s concern. “Our Sweet Guillotine” as well as Tempeste and Gabriel will stick in the mind and heart!

Penelope Anne Bartotto 

4 1/2 stars

Summer Reads

I happened to read a few great stories this summer! Hands-down, my favorite was Neal Shusterman’s Scythe. Shusterman knows how to concoct a chilling premise and deliver with impeccable writing every single time. I guessed I would love this book, and I was right. My twelve-year-old son and I fought over this one and he was disappointed the second one isn’t out yet. If you liked the Unwind series, this is a natural segue.

I also really enjoyed The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer. I was absolutely riveted by all 518 pages. Incredible pacing and dialogue. Meyer has such a gift for committing to a story and loving her characters so completely that I can feel her obsession on my end.

Next would be Of Love and Legend by Vanessa Eccles. I loved this one! This is my favorite of Eccles’ work. I read this in an hour without moving from my seat on a night I felt grumpy and needed something to give a little hope and magic in my life. This did just that! I loved the descriptions of Arthur and especially Gwenivere’s backstory. The backwards rain was beautiful, and the readability of the prose, dialogue, and setting was just magic! If you like retellings with a twist, check this one out. Maybe if I’m lucky, Eccles will do one about Lancelot.

I also got to read an ARC of A Boyfriend For Graduation by Katie Coughran. It was a cute read–the perfect companion for me while I sweated it out on the elliptical. I loved the theme of weighing practicality with following your dreams and passions… even when you’ve failed at this before. Damon and Charlie’s conversations felt real and resemble the type of emotional intimacy that I think is important in building a relationship.

A Drop of Night by Stefan Bachmann had an AWESOME beginning. I loved the protagonist’s snarky voice. My sister suggested I read this one since a group of teens are exploring a palace that was built during the French Revolution and I have a novel set during that time period. I didn’t get to finish it before my sister had to take it back to the library, but I really enjoyed the premise and voice.

I also love the premise of A School For Unusual Girls. I’m still reading this one, and the protagonist seems to doubt herself a lot, but Kathleen Baldwin handles historical fiction like a champ. She knows what she’s doing.

And finally, I just cracked open And I Darken by Kiersten White last night and it’s amazing. I’m immediately pulled in by the Vlad Dracula’s home and the chilling voice and setting. I do wish the cover was a little more gender neutral because I think my son would love this one but I’m not sure he wants to haul it around school.

Video #12: How to Use Amazon Ads to Sell More Books

Transcript:

Hello! I’m young adult adult, Mary Gray of marygraybooks.com and Monster Ivy Publishing. Today I’d like to talk about using amazon ads to sell more books, something both indie authors and large publishing houses are doing.

So, before I decided to go the indie author route and start my own publishing company, I didn’t know that kindle unlimited was a subscription service, much like Netflix. Every month, subscribers pay 9.99. Since i didn’t have contacts or an automatic audience for my latest release OUR SWEET GUILLOTINE yet, I opted to publish via kindle direct publishing to build my audience for an initial 90 days—not permanently.

Before releasing my novel, I took a webinar from Mark Dawson and Joanna Penn about how to create amazon ads, which was INVALUABLE. They taught me how to build my own list of keywords, pricing, and strategy.

I’ve learned two valuable lessons on my own apart from that webinar and I thought I’d share them today. And I know they’re worth it, because a few days ago, OSG got to #17 in teen Christian historical fiction, and #22 in teen historical Europe.

The first tidbit I’ve learned is the exact keywords customers are using that relate to books like mine. I created an ad revolving around Ruta Sepetys, a bestselling author in one of the shelves I’ve chosen, teen historical Europe. For keywords, I added other authors similar to her. And then in my ad, I could see the actual keywords people searched and whether or not if they clicked on my ad. Some of the successful keywords besides well-known books or authors were dark, Christian, or France. Customers also clicked on books like salt to the sea, the boy in the striped pajamas, an ember in the ashes.

The problem, though, is just clicking an ad doesn’t mean they buy my book. I’d pay anywhere from 8 cents to 50 cents every time they clicked out of curiosity. Few readers of those books are willing to try out an indie author like me. Further, bestsellers of large publishing houses aren’t on kindle unlimited where most of the books are independently published.

I find KU so intriguing, because the subscription model really works. DVDs gave way to Netflix. My family currently streams scripture cartoons from livingscriptures.com on family night. People are a lot more prone to do a subscription service with unlimited access across a drawn-out amount of time.

Anyway, even though I wasn’t gaining sales from buying ad space on these traditionally published books’ pages, I did see that I was gaining pages read from subscribers to kindle unlimited. (Pages read doesn’t compute as “sales” in the ad report.) I could tell that pages were being read because in “reports,” I suddenly saw spikes. Then, I looked at the section on OUR SWEET GUILLOTINE’s Amazon page and the “customers who viewed my book also viewed these” section proved the types of readers who were finding it–not readers of large publishers but kindle unlimited users of the romance genre.

Which leads me to my other discovery. I needed to create an ad not based on my shelf (most of the books in my teen historical Europe shelf, for instance, are pretty much all from large publishers). I needed to create an ad for THOSE kindle unlimited readers who were somehow finding my book even though I didn’t choose the bodice ripping romance genre in the first place. I’ve typed in some of these bestselling authors as keywords and I did hear a quote of a study from the SELL MORE BOOKS SHOW with Bryan Cohen and Jim Kukral that Kindle Unlimited customers are a lot more likely to leave reviews on amazon than other buyers. Regardless, I plan on monitoring this and my other ad to see even more “pages read” in the upcoming week!

I hope you found this info helpful. I’m really excited for my next several videos starting next week. It’s a topic that’s near and dear to my heart and there will be a series. Also, if you’re interested in being interviewed in one of my videos, please comment or contact me! I’m looking to cross promote other writers and creatives. Pitch me an idea and I’ll see if we can work out something!

I’m Mary Gray of marygraybooks.com and Monster Ivy Publishing. See you next week!