The Karenina Chronicles Audiobook Is Live!

🎉 Already! It’s live!

The brand-new audiobook of The Karenina Chronicles is now available at several retailers including Chirp, Kobo, Apple, and Nook; and at Spotify it’s a STEAL for only $11.49! 🤩 Audiobook retailers set their own prices, and this must be a new-release special price that won’t last long.

Please help me introduce Hannah Eggleton to audiobook listeners who will love to hear her work. This is Hannah’s VERY FIRST audiobook narration, and she has done a beautiful job. Wherever you get audiobooks, you can find it at Books2Read. Thank you for your support! 💙

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Snipped Scenes: The Fires of Farsinchia Outtakes

As I work back through my old notes for my novel-in-progress—notes scribbled on scraps of paper, some dating back a year—I find bits that I’m not sure can be incorporated sensibly into the Fires manuscript, but I’m reluctant to trash these bits. Therefore, I’m saving them here, just in case I’m inspired to use them in my final editing passes. “Kill your darlings,” they say. Eliminate any part of your writing—scenes, sentences, descriptions—that you love, but which don’t serve your story. I’m not ready to decapitate the following, so they’ll stay here for now, awaiting their fate.

On the Void’s Time-Warping

On Nina’s Permanent Departure from the Island World

Where Is Nina’s Sword?

Nina’s rapier figured prominently in The Karenina Chronicles (Waterspell Book 5). But in The Fires of Farsinchia (Book 6), it’s nowhere to be seen. That’s because, at the end of KC, Nina had left it at home in Ruain. Thus, she doesn’t have it with her when she makes the leap back through the void to the Ore Hills, at the beginning of Fires.

On Wolfram as Courier

A novel is like an iceberg. Much of the story is out of the reader's sight, known to the author but hidden in the depths.
A novel is like an iceberg. Much of the story is out of the reader’s sight, known to the author but hidden in the depths.

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What’s New in the Waterspell Universe

I haven’t blogged in months because I’ve been traveling the world. The world of Waterspell, that is. The place keeps me busy. Here’s some of what’s happening:

The Karenina Chronicles: A Waterspell Novel by Deborah J. Lightfoot. Audiobook narrated by Hannah Eggleton.

The Karenina Chronicles
A Waterspell Novel
by
Deborah J. Lightfoot

Audiobook narrated by
Hannah Eggleton

Fall 2024

The Karenina Chronicles audiobook is nearly finished! Narrator Hannah Eggleton has done a beautiful job. Hannah has captured Nina’s voice, attitudes, and personality so perfectly that I must keep reminding myself that Hannah is Hannah, not Nina. 😁 We’re aiming for a Fall 2024 release. The audiobook will be available everywhere: Audible, Chirp, Hoopla, Barnes & Noble, Spotify, etc.

Here’s a 2-minute sample to whet your appetite. I love the strong self-confidence of Hannah’s voice.

The Sequel: Fires of Farsinchia

Yes, there’s a sequel in the works. The Karenina Chronicles is itself a stand-alone sequel to the original Waterspell quartet. To follow Nina’s story, you don’t need to have read the first four books. KC takes the saga into a new generation with new characters and conflicts.

But just as Nina demanded that I tell her full story in a chronicle of her very own, several characters from KC have also clamored for more time on the page. The result is turning into yet another Waterspell novel, to be called The Fires of Farsinchia. I’ve been handing out business cards with Fires listed alongside KC, which is putting the cart before the horse since Fires is still months away from publication. It won’t be listed yet by any bookseller.

To give googlers a search result, however, in case any recipient of my card googles the title, here’s the blurb, along with a sneak peek at the cover:

Waterspell: The Nina Sequels by Deborah J. Lightfoot. "The Karenina Chronicles" and "The Fires of Farsinchia."

You map lovers out there will be happy to know that Fires includes a map, this one drawn professionally by Tiffany Munro, cartographer for Feed the Multiverse Studio. This lovely and detailed map will be a great help to readers in following the new story through a complex landscape. I’m thrilled with it! 💙

Map of the Ore Hills and vicinity, detail by Tiffany Munro, cartographer, from The Fires of Farsinchia: A Waterspell Novel by Deborah J. Lightfoot (c) 2024. All Rights Reserved.

Will There Be a Waterspell Book 7?

Possibly. I’m making notes for a book that could take the saga into the third generation. Two young adepts from The Fires of Farsinchia got married, and I’m sure their children will be unusually magically gifted. I may have to tag along on their further adventures, for I’m sure they’ll have many.

I need a break from this world, however. Since 2020, I’ve lived in the Waterspell universe. It has dominated my life. Which isn’t a bad thing at all, except I’m at the stage of life where I really should devote time to clearing out the clutter. My writing room is bursting with old projects, old notes, and files that need to be tossed. My late husband left a garage full of tools and bolts and fasteners of all kinds. It needs going through and boxing up for donation to Habitat for Humanity. Maybe I’ll take a year to declutter before tackling the story of the third generation in this fantasy family saga. Stay tuned!

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Book Promo Sites: Ranked and Updated

Here’s my annual analysis of my marketing efforts. This is pretty much all that I do in the way of marketing: I run a promo every month in a different email/newsletter.

The bar graph is screenshot from my Amazon KDP reports. Each blue bar is the total number of books that were ordered that month. Since I have a five-book series, the full-series promo at Written Word Media always brings in the most orders. People tend to buy every book in the Waterspell series. I love my readers. 💙

In 2023, I branched out a little from my regulars (Book Barbarian, Fussy Librarian, Written Word Media). I added Hello Books to the rotation, and will continue to use them. EReader News Today was also new on my list in 2023, and it did well. GoodKindles, however, was a complete bust. They’re off my list forever. With BookRaid, I have seen diminishing returns over the two or three years that I’ve been advertising there. Not sure they’re worth the money any more.

A full-series promo at Written Word Media continues to deliver the best results. It’s pricey at $170, but cost-effective for promoting the five books in the Waterspell series all at one time. Written Word Media offers several promo options. I tried their “Readers’ List” promo for the first time in August 2023, with disappointing results. Even combined with a concurrent Book Barbarian promo, the $125 “Readers’ List” email blast failed to produce the number of book orders that the $170 full-series promo brought me.

To summarize, this is how I’ll rank the effectiveness of these sites, in terms of the book orders they brought me at Amazon and how much I paid for each promo:

  1. Written Word Media full-series (Fantasy/Paranormal Series Promotion)
  2. EReader News Today
  3. Hello Books
  4. Book Barbarian
  5. Fussy Librarian
  6. Written Word Media “Readers’ List”
  7. BookRaid
  8. GoodKindles (a failure, so I’m not linking to it)

To see how my choices and experiences have evolved over time, you can look at my earlier posts on this subject — 2022’s Book Promotion Sites: Ranked, and back to 2021 when I was Focusing the Plan.

Since I hate marketing and I’m really bad at it, running promos this way is the easiest and the most effective approach I have found. Most of these promos cost $45 to $65. I budget to run one promo a month (rotating among these sites, and sometimes doubling up with less-expensive ads at BookDoggy and ManyBooks). Occasionally I splurge on a $170 Written Word Media full-series promo. I was an election clerk in November 2023 and got paid $188 for the day’s work. That will buy a promo. 😁

What promo sites do you recommend? What have your experiences been with pay-per-click ads at Amazon, BookBub, and Facebook? I tried those, but I found them to be way overpriced and ineffective for my books.

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Karenina Chronicles: Ebook Edition

The Karenina Chronicles, A Waterspell Novel by Deborah J. LightfootRelease Day Redux! Now it’s the ebook’s turn. The print edition came out November 17. On December 1, pre-orders of my newest book hit readers’ libraries and devices. I’ve been scrolling through it on my tablet, obsessively double-checking the table of contents and interior illustrations. Everything looks good!

Thanks to everyone who pre-ordered my latest. I’m hearing from my dearly beloved readers that some of you are rereading Waterspell Books 1-4 before starting in on the sequel, the newly published Karenina Chronicles. Bless you, dear friends! But for those who don’t have the time to reread four lengthy novels, please be assured that The Karenina Chronicles is pretty much a stand-alone. There ARE references to What Went Before, but I believe I’ve supplied enough backstory that any reader will be able to follow the new story (of The New Generation) without rereading (or reading for the first time) the previous quartet.

Example: It’s been YEARS since I read His Dark Materials. But I’ve recently listened to the audiobooks of Philip Pullman’s return to that world: The Book of Dust, volumes 1 and 2. Because of the little reminders that Pullman sprinkled through the sequels, I followed the story perfectly well, despite the many years that have elapsed since I read the Dark Materials trilogy.

So please do not feel that you must read Waterspell Books 1-4 before starting my new one. Though of course I love you for your willingness to do so!

Thanks to everyone for buying and reading. Please remember that books make great gifts! 😀

The Karenina Chronicles: A Waterspell Novel by Deborah J. Lightfoot

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Release Day! The Karenina Chronicles

Release Day! 🎉 The print edition of my latest book is now available at all of the booksellers. 🎉 I’m excited about The Karenina Chronicles. There’s a strong streak of a woman’s simmering rage in this book.

Direct links to the major booksellers for the print edition:

The ebook will release on December 1. Find it anywhere ebooks are sold: books2read.com/waterspellbook5

Summary: In the grip of a grief-fueled wanderlust after the death of her Earthly husband, Lady Karenina of Ruain Nina to family and friends escapes into unfamiliar lands, a harsh and distant country peopled with enigmatic characters: the Leviathan, the Nomad, the Outcast, and the Wolf. In their company she finds adventure, danger, champions, and rogues some of the latter worth killing, but at least one worth loving.

Continue the family saga that began in the WATERSPELL fantasy quartet (Warlock, Wysard, Wisewoman, Witch). Follow the further adventures of eldest daughter Nina in The Karenina Chronicles.

Thank you for your ongoing interest and support! 💙

I’m proud of this installment in the series. It’s a journey tale that covers a lot of ground. Karenina (Nina) would not leave me alone until I’d consented to tell the story of her “grand tour.” She insisted that I slip inside her saddlebags and make the trip with her. I’m glad I did. It’s been a journey of self-discovery for myself as well as for Nina. This addition to the series might not be a true standalone novel, but I believe readers can connect with the characters and follow their stories even without having read the first four books. There’s enough backstory scattered through this book to give readers the necessary background.

If you’ve been thinking about dipping your toe into the Waterspell ocean, The Karenina Chronicles is the book to start you off. These books mean a lot to me, and this newest one has a special hold on my heart.

The Karenina Chronicles by Deborah J. Lightfoot

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Books 1-4 on NetGalley: November 2023

Available on NetGalley until December 1.

When the boxed set of Waterspell Books 1–4 came out in April 2022, I offered ARCs on NetGalley. Optimistically, I hoped for 40 or 50 reviews.

I got six.

Those six, however, were all highly positive. There’s also a chance that some of the readers who downloaded the ARC did eventually post a review somewhere else. At the very least, as I noted in my observations back then, I gained exposure in a much larger arena than Bookstagram and Facebook, and got my work in front of all sorts of industry professionals, including booksellers and librarians.

The Karenina Chronicles by Deborah J. LightfootWith the new book, The Karenina Chronicles, coming out soon (paperback November 17, ebook December 1), I decided to offer the original quartet on NetGalley once more. Of course I revised the epub file to include a teaser for the new book:

Continue the family saga! Follow the further adventures of eldest daughter Nina in The Karenina Chronicles.

In the first couple of days of the boxed set’s new availability on NetGalley, I’ve received 30 requests. I’ve denied a few of those, in cases where the requester seemed to have no interest in the fantasy genre, or showed a tendency to DNF books. I figured they wouldn’t likely read a boxed set of 1,200 pages in a genre they didn’t especially like. Mostly, however, I have accepted all comers. As somebody once said: For most writers, piracy isn’t the problem. Obscurity is the problem. With the wider distribution that NetGalley makes possible, I’m trying to become a little less obscure.

Once again, I’m using the Victory Editing NetGalley Co-op, which enables me to “rent” a slot on NetGalley for one month for $50. Pretty cheap way to get reviews and exposure.

The Blessed Six

Fingers crossed that my return to NetGalley will bring in some additional reviews, to build on the strong foundation that my initial experiment produced. Looking back through those six lovely reviews, I must share excerpts:

“In this four-book saga, the author has created an epic fantasy world full of magic, danger, romance, and travel through time and space. This is a most enjoyable read for fans of fantasy and fine writing.” —Shirley

“A good choice for those that like fantasy. This has rich character and world building, and the elements of a good fantasy story.” —Paul

“An entertaining, fast paced, and well plotted fantasy series. Riveting. The world building is fascinating, and the characters fleshed out. Highly recommended.” —Librarian

“An addictive-to-read epic fantasy with drama and adventure. I binged through the books, eager to see how the story unfolds.” —Reviewer

“An extraordinary book, 4 in fact! I read these over a five-day period and found the storytelling fantastic.” —Reviewer

“A riveting series. Well written, excellent world-building with an engaging plot in each book and well developed characters. I was gripped right from the start with twists I didn’t see and unpredictability.” —Aria

Thank you all! 💙 🎉 Here’s hoping that my return to NetGalley will meet with as much success as my first time out, and maybe more.

If you’re a NetGalley member and would like a free copy of Waterspell, please snag it before the title is archived on December 1. The link: https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/book/306678

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New! The Karenina Chronicles

I’ve neglected my blog for months, for good reason. I’ve been totally absorbed with final edits to my new book, The Karenina Chronicles. Everything’s done now. Whee! The edits are finished, the cover is finished, the PDF of the cover and the book block have gone to Lightning Source for the print edition, and the ebook is loaded up at Amazon, Google Play Books, and (for distribution everywhere else) at Draft2Digital.

I’m pretty proud of this installment in the Waterspell fantasy series. I’ve worked on it for a year and a half. It’s a journey tale that covers a lot of ground. We get to know the children of Lord Verek and Lady Carin. The couple’s five offspring were introduced in Book 4 of the series, The Witch. Now we follow the eldest daughter, Nina, on her “grand tour” through the South Country of her homeworld. Much is revealed about her adult life, and the lives of her brothers: Dalton the weather-mage, Legary the wizard of stone, and Galen the firedrake. Nina simply would not leave me alone until I’d consented to tell the story of her journey. She insisted that I tuck myself into her saddlebags and make the trip with her. I’m glad I did. It’s been a journey of self-discovery for myself as well as for Nina.

The book blurb:

In the grip of a grief-fueled wanderlust after the death of her Earthly husband, Lady Karenina of Ruain—Nina to family and friends—escapes into unfamiliar lands, a harsh and distant country peopled with enigmatic characters: the Leviathan, the Nomad, the Outcast, and the Wolf. In their company she finds adventure, danger, champions, and rogues—some of the latter worth killing, but at least one worth loving.

I invite you to continue the family saga that began in the WATERSPELL fantasy quartet (Warlock, Wysard, Wisewoman, Witch). In the 400 pages of The Karenina Chronicles, you’ll follow the further adventures of Nina the firstborn, and discover that not all has been sunshine and roses, for either herself or her brothers.

While I won’t go so far as to claim that this installment in the series is a true standalone novel, I will say that I believe readers can connect with the characters and follow their stories even without having read the original quartet. There’s enough backstory scattered judiciously through this book to give readers the necessary background.

If you’ve been thinking about dipping your toe into the Waterspell ocean, The Karenina Chronicles is the book to start you off. I hope and trust that, when you’ve finished it, you’ll want to go back and pick up the previous books in the series.

Thank you so much for your interest and your support. These books mean a lot to me, and this newest one has a special hold on my heart. There’s a strong streak of a woman’s rage in this book.

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Chihuly in the Missouri Botanical Gardens

From my mini-vacation in St. Louis to see the Gateway Arch and Chihuly in the Garden, I came home with some great pictures. Sharing them here for fans of the beautiful blown-glass artworks of Dale Chihuly, famous Seattle artist.

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Book Review: That Which the Deep Heart Knows by RJ Wheldrake

Review: That Which the Deep Heart Knows
by RJ Wheldrake
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is epic. Grand. Beautifully written, masterful in scope and execution, brimming with palace intrigues, murder and treachery, high-stakes conspiracies and closely guarded secrets amongst a large and intricately choreographed cast of memorable characters. The action is intense, complex but well-paced, allowing the reader to catch their breath along the way and hear the rain battering the roofs of country inns while thunder rattles the windows of remote castles. Settings and characters are presented with a remarkable degree of finely wrought detail, details that paint the total picture of place and time, so that the reader feels they are present in each scene over a vast landscape.

This book is the work of an experienced, accomplished, highly talented author. I give it an enthusiastic and appreciative 5 stars and recommend it highly to lovers of epic fantasy. I’m moving directly into the next book in the series (A Trick of the Light, second of Wheldrake’s Toxandrian Chronicles). I’m eager for more excellent writing and another sweeping tale of adventure, destiny, love and sacrifice.

Note: Contrary to my usual practice, I’m not including the book’s cover with this review because the cover — beautiful as it is — tends to suggest that the story is a romance. The young woman pictured on the cover is indeed a romantic figure, and she serves as the pivot around which the story turns. The cast of characters, however, is large and varied, with many among them who lodged themselves deeply into my heart and my sympathies. I cared for them, and the story’s end brought tears to my eyes. This is not a happily-ever-after tale. Some of the characters never find happiness, and even those who enjoy years of blissful togetherness are eventually at the mercy of the fates. Do not, therefore, judge this book by its cover. It’s not the category romance that one might expect from casting a quick glance at the beautiful girl in the purple dress.

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