Thank You, Goodreads

Today ends the Goodreads-hosted giveaway of my coming book, WITCH DANCE, and I want to take a moment to extend a big, huge thank you to Goodreads! If anyone knows how to do a successful giveaway with no sweat equity from an author, it’s Goodreads.

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Goodreads was launched in 2007, and in the first year, it gained 650k members and 10 million books. By 2012, they had grown to 10 million members! By 2013, they had doubled to 20 million, at which point Amazon gobbled them up. They have about 50 million visitors per month now. Wow!

I’m sure some would say the acquisition by Amazon is both good and bad, though I don’t see much bad except that someday we’ll all be owned by the giant that is Amazon.

The good is that your Kindle and your Goodreads account are now synced. When you purchase a Kindle book on Amazon, it automatically shows up on your Goodreads account that you’re reading it. That’s kind of cool, unless of course you read ‘mommy porn’ and don’t want your friends to know. LOL

Anyway, back to the giveaway. For a very reasonable fee ($119), Goodreads hosts giveaways for authors. They run the entire promotion and distribute the Kindles to the readers (included in the $119). Well, that’s a whole week’s worth of work I don’t have to do, and up to 100 Kindle copies out there in the world that can’t be pirated like they could if I simply emailed them out myself. The best part is when a reader enters your giveaway, your book automatically goes on their “want to read” list for their friends to see. The next best part is eight weeks after the giveaway, Goodreads emails the winners and reminds them to leave a review. I guess that’s the least a reader can do for a free book.

Now, we just cross our fingers, hoping for good reviews.

If you’re an author with a Kindle book available on Amazon, run over to Goodreads and check out their giveaway promotions. Seems awesome to me! Click HERE!

 

Saturday Snippet – Witch Dance

Here’s a snippet of my coming book, Witch Dance. Release is next week!!! 🙂

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When the figure reached the center of the field, it stood up straight, as if being pulled upright by a string on the top of its head. As it uncurled, its hands extended to the sides with its palms facing upward, and it grew from what looked like an old hag to a healthy person. As if picked up by the same string, it rose straight up into the air. Chiksa’s eyes widened as the figure floated above the earth. A breeze caught the figure’s cloak and the edges swirled. A wind intensified, blowing around the figure, slowly spinning it in circles, but there had been no breeze a moment ago. A cloudy vortex formed around the figure, resembling tight circles of light gray smoke from a fire, extending from the ground into the clear heavens above. Even though he was known to be a mighty warrior, Chiksa’s hands began to sweat and his heart beat wildly, pounding in his ears. He had seen many things in his lifetime, but never anything like this. What kind of creature was this? When the figure hovered about four feet off the ground, the black cape dropped from its shoulders, floating to the ground like a fall leaf, revealing a woman. A young and beautiful woman. Her skin glowed under the stars as if she were the moon itself, coated in shimmering gold. Chiksa gasped and jumped to his feet.

The figure heard him and instantly returned to the ground. The vortex stopped so quickly, he wondered if he had imagined it. The woman retrieved her cloak, covered her nakedness, and walked toward him.

He couldn’t move from his spot. There was no sense in running.

She covered her head with her hood as she neared him. “Why are you here?” she asked in a cracking voice.

“I came to visit with my father,” he said in not much more than a whisper.

She cocked her head. “Your father?” She gestured around with both hands, indicating no one else was there.

He pointed to the mounds. “My father died a short time…”

She held her hand in front of his lips as if to silence him. Her fingers were long and bony, covered in deep wrinkles. Her nails were yellowed claws. This was not the beautiful young form he had witnessed only moments ago.

“There is great pain in this place,” she said.

“My people have recently lost their chief.”

“No. No people. Pain in you.” She pointed to his heart, her finger only inches from his chest.

He said nothing.

“Sa…lee…Salina?” she said slowly, her head cocked as if listening to something only she could hear.

“My wife.”

“A great blackness has taken her.”

“Yes.”

“She will die.”

He shook his head. “She can’t.”

“She can.” She paused and narrowed her eyes at him. “But she can be healed.” The old woman looked up at the sky and her cracked lips parted. Small black gaps between what looked like fangs emitted a foul stench that wrapped around Chiksa. Her yellowed eyes twinkled and she nodded toward the sky.

Chiksa didn’t move. He didn’t know if this creature had put a hex on him or if he was frozen in fear. It didn’t matter. She said Salina could be healed. That’s all he focused on.

“You can heal her?”

She was still staring at the sky.

He didn’t dare ask again. He didn’t want to anger her.

After a moment, she looked back at him. “Yes, yes, I can, but all things come at a price. I will decide the price and will be here again on the full moon. You come. Bring her.”

She turned away and moved toward the woods. He couldn’t say she walked; it was more like gliding, as if she floated just over the ground’s surface.

“What is your name?” he called when she reached the edge of the dark forest.

“Oma.”

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Lori Crane books are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooksWitch Dance will be available Sept 15 and is also coming to audiobook at Audible Oct 1.

Lori Crane is a bestselling author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day. 

Look for Lori on “Most Terrifying Places in America” on the Travel Channel the whole month of October, where her book “The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge” will be featured!

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Book Characters

One of the funnest parts of writing is creating characters. I don’t know that anyone remembers every character, but after spending so much time writing, an author will definitely remember all of them for all time.

In the beginning, a writer wonders what they look like? How do they respond to stresses? What makes them do what they do? Sometimes they change looks in the middle of writing the book. My favorite is: What recognizable quirky trait do they have? Do they always run their fingers through their hair? Do they bite their fingernails? Do they laugh awkwardly when they’re nervous? Many of my characters in past books were based on people I know, but it’s also fun creating a person out of thin air!

If my character isn’t someone I know, once I have a pretty firm grasp on how they look, I roam the internet looking for them. If I was casting a moving and everyone in the world could act, I would be the best casting agent ever!

 

witch dance cover

My coming book, Witch Dance, is about a late-thirties couple with two kids. The cast includes the wife’s childhood friend and his grandmother. Also in the story, is the grandmother’s friend.

The secondary story takes place 2000 years earlier with some indigenous tribal people in the same area.

The main focus of the book are witches from the same time period who make an appearance in current times and cause havoc for my late-thirties couple.

 

 

 

 

 

 

margaret speedwell

One of the premises of the book is the late-thirties woman is a doppelganger for one of the 2000-year-old Indians. So, you know she needs to look Native American. That’s pretty easy. Here she is:

 

 

emily and sarah

The problem started when I wrote her children as young blondes before I had a solid idea in my head about momma’s looks, and then my book-cover designer subsequently created the cover above with a blonde girl on it. Well, if momma looks Indian, where did these blondes come from?

 

 

 

Thomas Speedwell

I searched and searched for their lawyer daddy and found him here!

What a good looking family, no?

 

 

 

 

 

 

rich martin

 

Now for the woman’s childhood friend.

He is a newspaper reporter, never married, still lives with his grandmother, and I pictured him in my head as an uber-dork. How about this? Minus the typewriter…or maybe not.

 

 

 

 

grandma ivyHis grandmother is everybody’s favorite grandmother, whose house smells like cornbread and sweet tea. She has the most heartwarming blue eyes. This is Grandma Ivy.

 

 

myrtle

Her friend is named after a lady who lives down the road from me in real life. I’ve never met her, but I drive by her house on occasion and see about one hundred goats in her yard. One day, I mentioned the property with the goats to a friend, who said, “Oh, you must be talking about Myrtle Brooks.” The name stuck with me, and I knew I’d use it in a book someday.

 

 

 

Salina

Finally, I had to find a young Indian girl from 2000 years ago. Here she is:

It was so much fun casting my novel. I don’t know who any of these people are. I just stole their pictures from the Internet. If we ever make my new book into a movie, I’ll have to go back and find out who they are, because they definitely have a job!

I know you’re waiting for some pictures of the witches, but they seem to change shape/age/etc. frequently, so I couldn’t nail them down. Sorry. If we make the movie, they may have to be CGI.

Pick up a copy of Witch Dance (It’s on pre-order until release date 9/15 for only $0.99) and let me know if I nailed it! I’m sure I did!! And let me know if you find a pictures of my witches. 🙂

 

Witch Dance Pre-release

I’m so excited about my new book, Witch Dance! It’s in the final stages of editing and will be available for pre-orders very soon for only $0.99. I’ll post the link here as soon as it goes live. The official release date is September 15th and will be available in ebook and paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Create Space, Kobo, Sony, iBooks, and other online retailers. There will also be a blog tour and a Facebook release party, so stay tuned.

 

witch dance coverWitch Dance

Just south of Tupelo, Mississippi on the Natchez Trace lies a place of mystery called Witch Dance.

When Thomas and Margaret Speedwell took their twins to Witch Dance for a weekend camping trip, they never imagined they would be pulled into a vortex of witchcraft, tragedy, and karma. One of the girls goes missing; the other won’t say what happened on the other side of the hill.

The tragedy pulls together a cast of characters from Margaret’s childhood and beyond – Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians, Toltec ancestors, the extinct Hopewell tribe.

With the help of a childhood friend, a concerned newspaper reporter, and visions by a strange old woman, a two thousand year old mystery begins to unfold, uncovering missing children throughout generations. Who is taking them? Could it be the infamous witches of Witch Dance?

 

The Backstory of “An Orphan’s Heart”

I wrote the wrong book!

My idea was to write about the wild adventures of a young woman traveling alone across the deep south in the late 1800s. Imaging steam trains and covered wagons crossing the “wild west,” encountering gentlemen who were not always gentlemen, accommodations that were less than luxurious, and money non-existent following the Civil War. Now, place a young girl fighting for survival in this rough and tumble world. That’s what I wanted to write.

Didn’t happen!

I ended up writing an emotionally deep love story that made people cry. It wasn’t the story I set out to write. When I finished it and sent it to my editor, I told her I wasn’t happy with it, but it just sort of wrote itself, and I wasn’t sure what to do with it. When she returned the manuscript to me, she said, “I think you’re a lot closer than you think. It’s a beautiful story.” After living with it for a few months, I decided to leave it alone, allowing it to be what it was, and ended up with 92% of the Amazon reviews being three, four, and five stars. It just goes to show you, you never know what the public is going to like.

51w5TKRgkCL._UY250_An Orphan’s Heart is about a young girl from Mississippi who at the age of nine lost her parents to typhoid, during the Civil War. She was subsequently shuffled from family member to family member through her teenage years, ending up in Alabama. When she became a young women, she traveled to see her brother in Texas and fell in love with a young man there. The love doesn’t last long…you’ll have to read the book.

The heroine is a real person. She is my cousin, Martha Ellen Rodgers, simply known as Ellen. She was raised by her aunt Mary (my 3rd great grandmother). I’ve taken the family events, census records, newspapers, train schedules, cover wagon trails, and social events and weaved them into a story of love – NOT a story of adventure, darn it. She was a very brave young woman, surviving things we can only read about.

An Orphan’s Heart is on sale for $0.99 on Kindle at Amazon through March 22. If you like a tear-jerky (is that a word?) tale about a different time and place, give it a try.

Saturday Snippet of I, John Culpepper

I began researching my ancestry as a teenager. I knew my Culpepper line came to America from England in the 1600s, and I knew they were wealthy land owners with much prestige in the English court, but I didn’t understand why they would give all that up to sail to an inhospitable land full of savage Indians, facing the possibility of shipwreck, starvation, and death. How did those aristocratic people end up as the modest family I knew in my youth in Mississippi? The journey to find these answers became a series of four books about my 10th great-grandfather, John Culpepper.

51hHerBrPbL._UY250_Follow the series as John rebels against his father, the English civil war destroys the family, John ends up as the family patriarch in the colony of Virginia, and finally, as John comes to terms with his life and his past. The first book in the series is I, JOHN CULPEPPER. The subsequent books are JOHN CULPEPPER THE MERCHANT, JOHN CULPEPPER ESQUIRE and CULPEPPER’S REBELLION.

Here’s the opening chapter of I, JOHN CULPEPPER, setting the stage with his tumultuous relationship with his dad.

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CHAPTER 1

Fall 1626

“No! For the hundredth time, no!”

John looked down at the intricate grain of the walnut desk beneath his fingertips and shifted his weight to his other foot. He sighed, feeling his dreams disintegrate before his very eyes. The snap of the white sails, the taste of the salty spray on his lips, the smell of the tar that sealed the decks—the visions were quickly vanishing behind the thick fog of his father’s adamant disapproval. He pictured his mighty ship sinking into the black waters of condemnation, bubbling like a cauldron as it disappeared from sight. There was nothing he could do to change his father’s mind, and he wondered whatever possessed him to come to this man for assistance. He should have known better.

His father glared at John from behind the desk. He propped his elbow on the scrolled arm of the chair as his large hand methodically stroked his pointed beard. “Is there anything else?” he snapped.

John didn’t look up. He shook his head and mumbled, “No.” He turned and padded across the thick rug toward the door, listening to the man’s heavy breathing behind him. He reached for the brass doorknob, paused, and turned back. “You know I’ve always done everything you’ve asked of me. I went to school. I studied to be a lawyer. I did it all for you. I never wanted to practice law. I’d never be happy on the bench.”

“Happy? What makes you think life has anything to do with being happy? You are a Culpepper, and as such, you have an obligation to serve your family and your king in a manner befitting your station. This childish notion of owning a ship is nothing but rubbish.”

John released the doorknob and walked back toward his father’s desk. The intimidating man dwarfed the desk, his size exaggerated by the broad shoulders of his leather jerkin, yet he sat up taller in his chair in preparation for the quarrel to continue. It was a wasted gesture, as his opponent already knew the battle was lost.

John made sure he didn’t raise his voice. “Father, you have financed merchant ships for as long as I can remember. What difference does it make if I’m the one who owns the ship?”

“Culpeppers don’t own ships. I funded those expeditions as an investment—a losing investment, I might add.” He rose from his chair and his voice grew louder, echoing off the oak panels that lined the walls. “There has never been a Culpepper placed in a position of experiencing hunger and savages and shipwrecks, and there won’t be one now, not with my blood written on the purchase. I will not fund a ship for you, John, not now, not ever.” He pointed his finger in John’s face. “And if you somehow find a way to procure a ship, mark my words—I will disinherit and disown you. No son of mine will become a common sailor. I am finished with this conversation once and for all. Have I made myself clear?”

John exhaled, beaten. His shoulders slumped as he broke his father’s glare and dropped his eyes to the floor.

“John? Have I made myself clear?”

“Completely.”

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5-star-largeThe recipient of 5-stars at Readers’ Favorite, I, JOHN CULPEPPER is available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon. CLICK HERE.

“In I, John Culpepper, you will be transported back to the time John lived and you will feel like you are a part of John’s life. The experience of reading this book was out of this world. … it is a magical experience and you will not want to miss it for anything! Amazing!” ~ Rabia Tanveer for Readers’ Favorite

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Amazon Paperback Giveaways and Growing Twitter

Hi authors! I’m not dressing up this post with pictures and frills. This is business! If you’ve been trying to grow your Twitter following, this post is for you.

Amazon has a new program for authors of paperbacks. Scroll to the bottom of your Amazon paperback page, underneath your reviews. You’ll see “Set up an Amazon Giveaway.”

Here’s how it works:

You can offer as many books as you’d like, keeping in mind you have to pay retail price + shipping + applicable tax. You can set up the giveaway in two ways. 1) first come, first serve. Don’t pick that one. Or 2) offering your book to a lucky number (entrant). You can require your entrants follow you on Twitter. If you choose option 2, click “lucky number” and the button to connect to your Twitter account, select the winning entrant from 2-50,000, enter the number of books you’re giving away. The giveaway will run for one week. You cannot change the dates.

MATH: I know what you’re thinking – if I give away 5 books, 1 to every 20th entrant, I’ll get at least 100 new Twitter followers. No, no, no, think bigger. That’s what I did the first time and the 5 books were gone in less than a half hour. Yes, I got just shy of 200 Twitter followers, but the giveaway was over before I even told my Facebook people to enter. Set it up for a BIGGER number. If you give a book away to every 1000th follower, you would get 5000 Twitter followers! FIVE THOUSAND. It’s taken me two years to get to eight thousand. Maybe even go bigger if you’ve got the guts! You need to fill out three short blurbs, one to announce the giveaway, one for the people who didn’t win, and one to congratulate the winners. The contest is instantaneous. The entrant learns if they’ve won or not at that moment, so they’re not going to put off buying your book because they want to wait and see if they’ve won. I filled out the forms like so: Enter to win one of five paperbacks of XYZ. – Sorry, you didn’t win this time, but stay tuned for future giveaways. – Congratulations, you’re the winner! Enjoy XYZ and please check out all my books.

WORK: The cool thing is that Amazon does all the work. They contact the winners. They ship the books. You do nothing! It costs more than hosting a giveaway yourself, but when’s the last time you got 5000 Twitter followers from your giveaway?

MONEY: My paperback sells for $9.99, so my total cost for 5 books with shipping and my Tennessee tax was about $82. I got $13 back in royalties from CreateSpace AND I got credit for the sales in my Amazon rankings.

THE PIS DE RESISTANCE: If you don’t give away all your books in the allotted week, Amazon will return your unused money.

If you try it, let me know your outcome. We’re all in this together. 🙂

 

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Lori Crane is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day.