Tag Archives: writing

Nightingales (a short story)

NIGHTINGALES

by Melody Robinette

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(I DO NOT OWN THE RIGHTS TO THIS PICTURE)

 

Aria sheathed her blade on her hip before slipping out of the cottage she shared with her mother and three sisters. No men inhabited these woods. At least not for a fortnight. But beasts did. Best to be prepared.

The men of Arsondower worked down in the valley between the mountainous hills. They were miners of sorts; only, instead of coal…they mined dragons. They were known as Dragon Keepers. Aria’s own father was there even now, carrying on the tradition passed down man to man to man.

It sounded like a tale of old. How lovely and magical, you might think. But Dragon Keepers had only one aim.

Gold.

Dragon scales were worth their weight in it. And dragon eggs were worth even more.

Aria knew the way to the small creek that cut through the dense woods by heart. She’d been there more than any other place in her life, carting her bucket. Sometimes she liked to pretend she was traveling far away, to another land. She loved her family, but being cooped up in a cottage wasn’t exactly the dauntless life she longed for.

The women of Arsondower were kept safe in the mountains, tucked inside the shadows of the trees. They weren’t to venture down into the valley. It was dangerous. It was a man’s world.

A time or two, when Aria was too young to know better, she’d asked her father why she couldn’t help with the dragons.

It’s man’s work, Lamb,” he’d said. “You stay in the cottage with Mommy where it’s safe.”

You can help with the butter,” Mommy had added. “Won’t that be fun? You love helping with the butter.

Aria did, in fact, love helping with the butter. Mostly because she’d swipe the side of the churn with her finger while her mother wasn’t looking and pop the creamy glop in her mouth. But, the older she grew, the more curious she became. Not about butter. Curious about the dragons.

So, one night, she snuck out of the cottage to follow her father and brother into the mines.

What she saw there still haunted her.

Fire-breathing beasts the size of redwood trees were chained to the ground with heavy, steel manacles. Their hides, usually known for their slick sheen, were dull and bleeding where the miners had stripped off their scales. Tortured despair hovered like a ghost in their eyes.

Aria was petrified. And outraged.

Her father had always taught her to be kind to the animals of the forest, to treat them with respect and reverence. Only to shoot with the intent to kill and consume.

Never hurt.

But there he was, hurting the creatures whose profiles were sewn into their town’s flags. She couldn’t make sense of it. She wanted to ask him why he’d do such a thing. But she never did. She’d snuck back up to her house, claiming to her worried mother that she’d gotten lost in the woods.

 

Remembering this now, Aria looked over her shoulder as she knelt beside the cool stream, bucket in hand. Sometimes when the wind blew through the branches, she swore she could hear the tormented cries of the dragons kept chained in the mines below.

Golden hair spilled forward as she leaned down to scoop up the water, her red cloak dragging on the ground.

Ripples appeared suddenly on the water, followed by a great, undulating wind. The hood of Aria’s cloak blew back as her face pointed skyward.

Seven winged grey animals, streaked with blue, landed on the bank across the creek from Aria. Hopping to her feet, knocking the bucket full of water over, she unsheathed her knife, holding it before her and wishing she’d thought to carry her bow.

Once the wind created by the animals’ wings died down, Aria realized what they were. Peryton. Majestic creatures with the head, forelegs, and antlers of a stag. Their hindquarters, wings, and plumage were that of a bird.

A rather large bird.

This wasn’t what caused Aria to unsheathe her knife, though. For, atop the creatures were figures dressed all in black.

“Who are you?” Aria demanded, sounding much braver than she felt. “What do you want? I have nothing for you. Unless you find yourself in need of a water pail and a dull hunting blade.”

One of the figures slid off their peryton and stepped into the light, causing Aria’s knife hand to fractionally lower.

It was a woman.

Skin the color of the tree bark behind the woman brought out the intense green of her eyes. Her hair was pulled back in a tight braid down her back. Shining black armor darker than coal covered her slim frame.

“Who are you?” Aria asked again, only this time in a voice of awe rather than anger.

“I am Zinnia. And we are Nightingales.” Shoulders burdened by horned armor straightened with pride. “Protectors and saviors of dragon kind.”

“Dragons,” Aria said in a whisper. “But the dragons are down in the mines in the valley. Why are you here?” She swept her hand over the water and gestured to the trees.

“To collect you, Aria Seaweather.”

“Collect me? But…what—”

“You have a hunger for adventure and a tender heart for dragons, do you not?”

Mouth opening and closing, Aria looked over her shoulder, down at the mines she couldn’t see. Remembering. Feelings from that night long ago crept across her skin, raising hairs.

“Yes,” she said in a breath. “I do.”

“Then come.”

***

Aria was given armor and weapons and a peryton of her own. She left her clothes, red cloak, and bucket in a pile near the creek. Standing beside the water, she peered down at her blurry reflection and felt a fire ignite in her core.

Oh. This was what she’d been missing. This.

“Ready, Seaweather?”

Weaving her golden hair into a secure plait, Aria turned to face the Nightingales. “Ready.”

Riding the peryton felt like traveling on a cloud of air, soaring smoothly over the ripples of wind. The atmosphere grew warmer as they neared the mines in the valley. A squirming worm of nerves twisted in Aria’s gut.

“Seaweather,” Zinnia called out. “Take this.”

Turning just in time, Aria caught the black weapon tossed her way. It looked like glowing coals shaped into a sharp sword.

“What is this?”

“A sectar. It will cut through metal. Use it on the dragons’ chains.”

“It cuts through metal?”

“And flesh.”

Aria gulped.

The Nightingales swooped down unseen on the valley, leaping from their peryton, and moving stealthily into the mines. Aria clutched her sectar as she moved forward, into the dark holes of despair.

Bellowing dragons—three of them—thrashed their heads as the Dragon Keepers went at their hides with scrapers. Glittering scales fell like teardrops onto the mine floor at the men’s feet. Aria skirted the edge of the wall, the darkness of her armor blending in with the night. Her hair on the other hand…

“You lost?”

Turning on her heel, Aria’s gaze landed on a young man about her age with hair the color of speckled sand. His sapphire eyes shown in the dim light of the mines. Tucking the sectar behind her, Aria flashed a bright smile.

“I was just curious about the dragons,” she simpered.

Curious?” The man’s mouth tugged upwards in amusement. “This is no place for a woman. It’s not safe.”

She nodded, eyes moving over the other men. “I agree… There are many dangerous creatures here.”

He looked her over. “Why are you dressed like that?”

Suddenly shouts and roars sounded from behind Aria, coming from the other mines. The Nightingales had released the first dragons.

The man looked wild-eyed at the scene in the center of the ring of mines where Dragon Keepers were now running. He turned back to Aria, his expression changing.

“I’m a Nightingale,” she murmured, answering his earlier question. Lunging around him, she bolted towards the first dragon, slicing her sectar through one of the thick manacles holding the creature down.

The dragon protested at first, then, seeing that one of its four legs were free, stood completely still, waiting for her to release the other three. The sandy-haired man ran at her, but she ducked under the dragon’s emaciated belly.

The beast kicked out its free leg, connecting with the man’s torso as Aria ran the sectar through two more chains, sprinting for the fourth.

“Aria!” a familiar voice shouted.

Hand raised, weapon at the ready, she looked up. Her father stood in the mouth of the mine, gaping at her in horror.

What do you think you’re doing?”

Men began to surround her, approaching slowly. She clutched her sectar tighter.

“A woman’s job.”

And then she brought down the sectar, cutting the final tie. The dragon reared its head and thrashed its tail as the men tried to keep it from leaving the mine. It trampled over them as if they were nothing more than scurrying beetles.

Aria ran like a spark, a streak of fire, burning through the mine. Sectar met metal, slicing through as easy her mother’s knife cutting freshly churned butter.

One free, two free, three free. Go.

“Go!” she shouted to the dragons. “Hurry!”

The Dragon Keepers ran about the valley like ants whose home has just been invaded by a human foot.

The final dragon began to leave, but turned back to look at Aria. “Go on,” she urged. “You’re free now.”

He retreated, coming closer to her. She knew she should probably be afraid, but she felt nothing more than awe at the beauty of this beast. The dragon lower his head and Aria saw that his snout had been tied shut as well. Guiding the tip of her sectar, she delicately cut through the thin chains.

Opening his mouth widely, Aria could see inside, waves of heat at the back of his throat and the bubbling of flames.

She took a step back, but the dragon closed his mouth and lowered his head again, indicating Aria should climb up. Men were closing in on the two of them, wielding swords and bows and angry faces. Aria climbed up, clutching onto the dragon’s neck as he turned, opening his mouth again.

The Dragon Keepers who’d been charging towards them halted in their steps…and then ran like Hades in the opposite direction, trying to outrun the wave of flames rolling after them.

The dragon let out another burst of fire and a growl that almost sounded like he was chuckling. And then he stepped forward, emerging into the clear air, spreading his leathery wings out, looking up at open sky.

“That’s all of them, Seaweather,” Zinnia called from the back of another dragon. “Let’s take them home.”

Aria nodded, patting the beast beneath her. “Fly, boy. Fly away from here.”

A puff of smoke furled out of the dragon’s nostrils and he ran forward, pumping his wings until they both lifted up. And then they turned towards the light of the moon, leaving the chains of the mines and forest behind.

Both soaring towards an unmapped freedom.

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Ring Around Rosie (a short story)

Ring Around Rosie

by Melody Robinette

***

Ring around the rosies

Pocket full of posies

Ashes, ashes

We all

Fall

Down

***

 

Wesley Wilson

December 11th, 1983

Plukley, Kent, UK

A whispering wind blew through the creaking branches of the trees outside of my new house in my new neighborhood in my new town in my new country. Dad was always moving us places. It was his job. I wasn’t even sure what it was he did. He moved my mother and me around. That’s what he did. And then he’d be gone all the time. Working, I suppose.

Mother would clean the house and sit in her chair and sip tea. She wasn’t much for entertaining children. Her own son included. But I was smart for an eight-year-old, thank you, and I could entertain myself just fine. I’d grown used to it over the years. Why make friends when you would just end up leaving them?

Best to get used to imaginary friends. Get used to exploring. I preferred the latter.

The house in Plukley, Kent was nice enough, I supposed. The floorboards creaked and a musty scent hung like cobwebs in the air.

“Mother,” I called lightly to the hovering figure in the kitchen. “I’m going out.”

She responded with a small huff of air as she took another pass at the counter with her cloth.

Threading my arms through the sleeves of my corduroy coat, I left through the whining front door. The hinges squealed in protest of my departure.

The ground was hard with winter, but I welcomed the sweet scent of ice in the air. Our last town had been a beach town. The air was always salty. I hated it.

Our new house was nestled in sparse woods with thin trees. The houses were rather far apart from one another. Not like the town I lived a few years before where you could hear the conversations of your next door neighbors at suppertime.

On my exploratory walk, I reached a dilapidated trail leading away from our house into a thicker copse of trees. Of course, I followed it.

Walk into the woods.

What was the worst thing that could happen?

The silence in the town was unnerving. It was more than just sleepy. It was eery. As if all the residents had been gagged and tied up to keep from speaking. No animals populated the thickening woods, which I found rather strange. Though, it was winter. Perhaps they were hibernating. Bit early for that, but it eased my curiosity.

The copse of trees thinned out again to reveal another house similar to my own. But, if it was possible, even worse for wear. Peeling paint, hanging shutters, a grey aura of age emanating from the wooden beams. Attached to the house was a tall, wooden fence. It looked like an animal enclosure. For dangerous animals that were only fed with a long pole.

I approached it, of course, walking the periphery, running my hand along the dusty wooden planks. I tried to peek inside, but the slats between the boards were too narrow.

Then I saw the key.

Well, keys, I should say. A set of them stuck into the keyhole of the door in the wooden fence. Bone keys. At least that’s how I thought of them. My parents always corrected me when I used the term. But the word skeleton creeped me out, so I replaced it with “bone” whenever necessary.

The keys were swaddled in a thick film of cobwebs. I wondered how long it had been since they’d been touched by human hands. I reached out to take them and paused when I heard a strange, melancholy voice. A girl’s voice.

Ring around the Rosie. Pocket full of posies. Ashes. Ashes. We all…fall.

“Hello?”

The singing stopped.

“Is someone in there?” I asked in an unsteady voice, pressing my ear to the wood, listening. No more singing, but I swore I could hear breathing. “Hello?” I said again.

A voice lighter than the wind answered me. “Do you have them?”

I reeled back in surprise, my heart hurting from going slowly to bullet-speed in seconds. Again, I tried to look through the slit in the fence. I saw nothing but dirt. “Do I have what?”

“Keys,” the voice answered.

I looked again at the bone keys before me. They were stuck through the keyhole as if someone had considered opening the door but changed their mind halfway through.

“There are keys here,” I said. “Is that what you mean?” I sounded much braver than I felt.

“Come in,” the voice said. “Come in.”

I reached for them, grasping hold. My hand moved a millimeter to the left before I changed my mind. I didn’t like the idea of opening a door without knowing the contents within. There was not enough space to look through in the fence. But there was a keyhole.

Instead of turning the lock, I pulled the key out, bending down to look through the keyhole.

Inside the fence, there was no vegetation, no bush or flower or sprig of grass. Just a circle of dirt. In the middle was a raised mound surrounded by a sunken ring of a trail as if someone had paced around and around and around, wearing the dirt away. None of this mattered much to me, though. Because dirt wasn’t the only thing inside.

There was also a girl. A young girl. About my age, probably. Everything about her was fair, from her almost translucent skin to her corn silk hair. She wore a cream colored dress and sat atop the mound of dirt rocking back and forth, twisting her head from side to side. She started to sing again.

Ring around the Rosie. Ring around the Rosie. Ring around. Ring around. Ring around…me.

The hairs on my arms raised as her hollow eyes landed on me. She stopped singing and smiled with only her lips.

“Come in, Wesley. I’ve been waiting for you here. Come in.”

A susurration from behind me forced me to pull away from the fence, looking wildly around. A trio of wolves stood on the edge of the forest watching me with narrowed eyes and bared teeth. White foam ringed their mouths.

Singing girls locked in wooden cages. Rabid wolves. What kind of town had my father brought us to this time?

I stood slowly, the bone keys still clutched in my hand, trying not to startle them.

This movement was too much. They began to charge. I had a good ten seconds until they reached me. My options were slim. I could try to outrun them, but I wasn’t a fast runner. I could try to fight them, but I had no weapon and my arms were puny. Or…

I looked back to fence, and feeling I had no other choice, I jammed the bone key into the keyhole and turned it hard to the left. I slipped in through the gate and slammed it shut behind me. The wolves crashed against the planks, snarling and growling.

I tripped back onto the hard ground, my chest rising and falling in rapid succession.

“I’ve been waiting for you, Wesley.”

Scrambling to my feet, I turned to see the little girl standing inside the trodden ring of dirt now, leaning towards me.

“What do you…what do you mean?”

“Come,” she said, stifling a giggle. “Come play in the ring.”

I stood, but I didn’t move. The wolves were still growling at the fence.

“I’m Roselyn,” she said.

I remember her song and whisper, “Ring around the Rosie?”

“Yes!” She giggled. “Ring around me.”

She laughed again, and continued to laugh, echoing around the ring. All of a sudden the laughter stopped and her eyes slowly rolled upwards until only the white was showing. Then she collapsed into the ring. Forgetting my fear of her, I rushed forward, falling to my knees beside the trodden ring of dirt and peering down.

Her flaxen hair covered her fair face and she didn’t appear to be breathing. I moved to touch her.

Then her hand flashed forward and clutched onto my arm. Her eyes, still all white, flew open and mine fell closed.

***

Blinking away the darkness, I opened my eyes. I was lying on dirt. A mound of dirt. Lifting my head, I tried to take in my surroundings. I was on the mound of dirt inside the circular trail. I was inside the ring. But the girl who was here before was nowhere to be seen.

Then my gaze moved to the gate, to the open keyhole. To the white-blue eyes staring through. A screeching giggle sounded on the other side of the fence.

And then she started to sing.

Ring around the Wesley. Ring around the Wesley. Ring around. Ring around. We all…fall…down.

A Day in the Life of a Summer Writer

I don’t know why I think anyone would care what I do all day, but I get that question a lot for some reason. It’s summer, and I’m a teacher ten months out of the year, which means I get to collect my overtime for two months. (June and July) Save for a few professional development days. I write all year ’round, but during the summer…I’m a full-time writer. And it’s awesome.

Currently, I’m writing Alex and Azalea, the prequel novella to my Underground Trilogy. And I’m editing Ash, the second book in the series. It’s been published, but I’m working on re-editing and re-formatting it.

So, here’s what my summer writing day looks like:

7:30 am– Wake up without an alarm 🙂

(Lay in bed and scroll through all the social media platforms. It’s embarrassing how long I let myself do this.)

8:30 am– Actually go downstairs and make coffee, brew, add cream, clean up coffee grounds, nuke it until it’s scalding. Grab chocolate. (Important step)

8:45 am-Sit in “the writing chair” and open Scrivener, scan the last few paragraphs of what I wrote yesterday, long-hand write what I plan on writing today in a physical journal. (For some reason it helps.)

(Get stuck on Facebook for another five minutes.)

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9:00 am– Using the “Pomodoro Method” write for 25 straight minutes with a timer. (Wrote 750 words during this go.)

9:25 am– 5-minute Break (Nuke coffee again)

9:30 am– Write for 25 more minutes (700 more words)

9:55 am-5 minute Break (Nuke the last of my coffee)

10:00 am– Write for 25 more minutes (Final morning word count = 2029)

IMG_220510:25 am– 5-minute Break

10:30 am– Have a psychotic break and decide it’s a good idea to take a 45-minute walk outside…in the Texas heat. Why? Who knows.

11:20am– Collapse on living room floor. Chug water.

11:30am– Make myself get up off the floor and return to my chair. Open Grammarly and the word document of the novel I’m currently editing (inwardly whine about it) Edit for, like, 20 minutes and decide I’m hungry for lunch.

11:50ish am– Make avocado toast with ricotta cheese (it’s delicious) Open Netflix, watch an episode of Shameless (SO FREAKING GOOD)

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12:45ish pm-Go back to editing

1:30 pm– Decide I’m gross from walking outside and probably need a bath. Grab book, read in the bath, wash hair, etc.

IMG_22202:15 pm– Get mad because I somehow got my book completely soaked. Brush hair, apply lotion, get dressed, go back to “the writing chair”

2:30 pm– Write half of this blog post

3:00 pm– Go back to editing (UGGHHHHH)

IMG_22223:30 pm– Eat a snack. Watch more Shameless. (Because summer.)

4:30 pm– Chat with the HusBen who is now home from work, do some crunches to get that six pack…yeah, contemplate whether I should do more editing now or later.

(Mess around on social media instead)

5:15 pm– Make tea. Edit some more.

IMG_22236:10 pm– Throw computer across the room. Just kidding. But…no more editing for today. Okay? No more.

6:15pm– Make more avocado toast. Because I can have the same meal for lunch and dinner. Shhh. Don’t judge me.

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SHAMELESSSSSSSSS

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(Can’t you tell it’s so good ^^^ LOL!)

7:30pm and on– Probably watching more Shameless, finishing and posting this blog, messing around on Pinterest and social media, reading my new book (from my book of the month box!) and hanging with the HusBen.

Tomorrow (after my damn 7am dental appointment) I’ll probably do it all over again in one way or another. But, yeah. In addition to what I wrote, there were also other random things that are too minor or inappropriate to write in a blog. Also, I’m a type one diabetic, so there was, of course, testing of my blood sugar and changing out my insulin and such in between everything.

Do this every day, and you have the completed first draft of a novel (or novella in this case) and an edited novel ready within about two months. (or less)  It works for me. This is my summer. (Sometimes I go to coffee shops and do the writing and editing thing.)

And this is basically what I do during the school year too, only minus the fun Shameless watching and snacks and social media checking breaks. I wake up earlier (5AM!) and write about the same amount, and edit in the evenings. It’s a full-time job wrapped around my other full-time job.

Maybe soon it will be my only one. 😉

West Texas A&M Writers’ Academy

Every year I escape to a writer wonderland in Canyon, Texas. The Writers’ Academy. It’s a week-long, intensive workshop setting where writers come in as one person and leave as somebody completely different.

When I completed my first novel, I didn’t even know there were other people like me out there. I mean, I did. But I didn’t know there were any close by. I reached out to a creative writing teacher I had when I attended Wext Texas A&M in 2009 and asked her for some advice on publishing. She gave me the contact information for a local writer named Jodi Thomas.

I did some research and learned that Jodi really knew her stuff. She was a New York Times Bestselling author and she was living only a few hours from me. I emailed her, not expecting to get an immediate response, but within a few days, I’d received a follow-up from her. She said that she would be in Lubbock the next week and asked if I wanted to meet for dinner to talk about writing.

Um. Yes, please!

So, we met and I got to talk to someone who was just like me. Someone who breathed writing like it was her life source. Then she told me about the Writers’ Academy. I had to come, she said. It would change my life.

And it did.

Imagine. An entire workshop of 50 or so people that are obsessed with the same thing you’ve been obsessed with for years. People who don’t think it’s strange to carry around journals or to jot down interesting names to use for a character. People who are filled with words just like you. This was my idea of paradise. And now I return every single year.

This year I will be taking Bethany Claire’s class on Self-Publishing. As a self-published author, you might think it would be pointless for me to take such a class. But I know I have so much to learn about this craft that is truly a business. Sure, I can write a book. I can write several books. But getting them out there when no one knows (or cares) who you are is more difficult than I ever imagined.

I’m excited and nervous. Nervous because I know I’m going to learn about the things that I should have done with my first four novels. I’m nervous because I know this class will be the catalyst I need to get my email list up and running and all the other stuff that goes along with publishing a novel. Self-pub or traditional.

I’m nervous. But I’m ready. 11048719_1092639154083643_1582680029528583240_n

 

That is SO overdone. (Shut your face.)

You know what annoys me? When people say “stop writing things like this” or “characters like this are overdone.” Then YOU stop writing things like that and YOU write about different characters.IMG_0581

If a writer, especially a new one, wants to write a YA story about a teen girl that gets saved by the dark, handsome, misunderstood, brooding, and totally unrealistic guy…then let them.

I’ve written eight books. My first book is admittedly WAY more juvenile than my eighth. It is riddled with cliches and crappy dialogue. But that’s how you learn to write. By spitting out what you are used to, what you’ve already read in a thousand other books a thousand times. Quit telling people what NOT to write. If they are writing ANYTHING at all, then they should be proud of that. I’m honestly tired of all the articles whining about how nothing is original anymore and that “so and so” characters are tired and overdone. So the eff what? Things like this make new writers second guess their stories and maybe even give up on it entirely.

We can’t all write the next great “wherever you live” novel 100% of the time.

Just write.

Let writers write.

Let’s Talk About Es-Ee-Ex.

So, I’m pretty professional in blog posts for the most part. And I’m not quite sure why because my books are turning pretty mature as I, you know, mature. Like today. I just wrote a sex scene that actually talks about a guy getting hard.IMG_6673

GASP.

It doesn’t sound like a big deal–especially if you are the type to read erotica–but it’s sort of a big deal to me. I love reading that shit. So hot. Love it. Especially fanfiction. Give me some dirty Harry/Draco sex scenes and I’m golden. But writing it is so different. At least it feels different to me. It’s weird. It’s awkward. I’m not a sexpert. I don’t know all the poses and weird words and how the hell you’re supposed to make some of these things sound sexy.

Initially, I wrote YA, which is very “behind closed doors” and I was totally cool with that. But then I started writing older characters (New Adult, I guess) and they were naturally more sexual. As you would expect young twenty-somethings to be. But I still have that “Nooooo. This is naughty. Stop this.” voice inside my head. It’s stupid, I know. But I got my start with YA and my only published books are YA and I’m just picturing all the young readers who enjoyed my Underground Series reading my new books and freaking out.

So, I’m determined to read more books with sex in them. To…I don’t know…make me feel more comfortable. What are your favorites? Doesn’t have to be erotica. In fact, I’d probably prefer to read books that just have sex scenes in them, but the rest of the novel is about other things? IDK. I’m rambling now.

Anyway. Advice? Book suggestions? HELP!?

Giving it All Away (Free E-Book Option on Amazon)

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Okay, maybe not giving it ALL away. But I did set OAKEN to FREE for 3 days. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I still don’t know how all of the math-related statistical whatchamacallit stuff works on Amazon. I just decided to set my book to free when I released my second book, ASH, blindly hoping that maybe some people would download it and then go on to get the next book. Maybe. What happened, though, blew my mind.

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People started to download it.

I’ll admit, the first day I probably refreshed the “sales” page and my book’s page a million times to see the numbers go up. By the end of the first day, 2,844 people had downloaded Oaken.

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Then, somehow, I managed to go to sleep. I randomly woke up at 1:33 AM, and, of course, checked the page to find that Oaken was #1 in the FREE Paranormal Fantasy category. What’s very strange to me, though, is that I never put my book into that category…because it’s not really paranormal in any way. This is one of the things I need to find out more about because it’s truly fascinating to me. It was almost as if Amazon was putting my book into the category it would do best in–the category where it would be ranked the highest.

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In the Young Adult Fantasy category, I reached the #2 spot and stayed there for the next two days. (Damn Relic wouldn’t budge.)

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And in the TOP FREE 100 I reached #46! MY MIND WAS BLOWN.

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On the very last day, I received an email from ebookdaily.com that my book would be featured that day in their Fantasy selection of free e-books.

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I’m telling you guys, I have whiplash from how fast and hard all of this hit me. So, I wasn’t making any money off of Oaken? So what? Look how many people saw and downloaded my book with the potential to buy my other books later. It was so incredible to experience. Truly.

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By the end of the last day (and apparently 49 units after midnight) 7,414 people downloaded OAKEN. 7,414 people that, let’s face it, probably wouldn’t have taken the leap to actually purchase the book for $3.99. I get it. There is a lot of self-published crap out there. But there are also a lot of jewels, hidden in the mountain of books online. It’s an overwhelming thing, really. So, I get why people wouldn’t want to take a chance on a self-published author like myself. But there is nothing to lose when they can download the book for free. And, if they like it, maybe they’ll keep coming back. 🙂

One of the coolest things, though, is that, even after the FREE period ended, I saw an enormous jump in sales. (45 PAID units total by the very end of the day on the 20th)

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As it stands–wait, lemme go refresh the page and give you the latest–Oaken is #82 as of 9:00 AM the morning of June 22nd in the Top PAID 100 of the Young Adult Fantasy category. (This number changes every hour. Yesterday it bounced around from 98 to 117. This morning it was 76) The top 100 is golden, though, y’all, because this means your book is visible. Amazon only displays the top 100 books per category and many people won’t venture much further than this.

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So, if you are self-published, or thinking of self-publishing, and are unsure of whether or not you should take advantage of the FREE book promotion Amazon offers, I can say from personal experience that there is NOTHING you can lose by doing this. It’s basically free advertising for you, thanks to Amazon. Whether 100 or 1,000,000 people download your books, that’s just that many more people who now know who you are, who know about your books. By setting your book to free, you have nothing to lose and SO MUCH to gain.

Trust me. Just do it.