House of Crimson & Clover Redesign

The House of Crimson & Clover turns eight this fall. It’s really much older than that, if we’re tracking from the point of inception, 1999, but September 26th, 2011 was the date of the first publication in the series.

The books have come a long way since then. The last book came out on the series’ 6th anniversary, in 2017. Some of the books have hit the Top 100 (and even Top 20) on Amazon, and rose to the top of the charts on Apple Books, Nook, and Kobo as well. A couple have been reedited. They’ve all been through multiple iterations of cover designs. The decision to introduce readers at The Storm and the Darkness or The Illusions of Eventide has gone back and forth.

I’ve come a long way as well since 2011. I’d like to think I’m a better writer. I’m definitely a better designer, and if you didn’t know, I’ve designed all the covers for this series—the good, the bad, and everything in between.

What I’ll be introducing over the next week or two, slowly as I take the necessary time to change what’s required, is the culmination of all of those designs, and of my skills as a designer (which are still, always, evolving).

Without further ado, here are the new covers for the twelve books of The House of Crimson & Clover:

NewCC.jpg

In addition to cover changes, I’m taking this opportunity to provide final clarity on the reading order by renumbering the series. Instead of The Storm and the Darkness and Shattered both being listed as prequels, they have been renumbered to Volumes I and II. This puts The Illusions of Eventide, previously Volume I, to Volume III. Labeling the first two books as prequels, I believe, caused confusion in readers who believed they were optional to the reading order. The true first book in The House of Crimson & Clover is The Storm and the Darkness. 

I’m working to get these updated at all the retailers, but in the meantime, if you’re in love with the existing covers, now’s the time to grab them before they change!

Here’s a trip down memory lane, on the design progression of The Storm and the Darkness:

StormEvolution.jpg

I’ll end by giving a quick rundown of what’s in flight for me writing-wise:

  • Finishing The Seven Series. 1975 just released, and 1976 is coming July 31. I’m getting ready to start the first draft of
  • The second Midnight Dynasty Series book, A Storm of Revelations, comes out Tuesday! This one’s a wild ride, and I think you’ll love it.
  • I’m working on a somewhat secret project, but I’ll tell you this: it’s bigger and more ambitious than anything I’ve ever done, and it’s a fantasy series. The world-building alone has taken me many hours, and I’ve just started writing in the world. Once The Seven is truly done, this will be my main focus for the time being.

 

Happy Reading!

Sarah

Advertisements

Fantasy, History, and Inspiration

TLDR: I talk about what I like/don’t like in the fantasy genre, and how that’s motivated me to finally invest in writing my own fantasy cycle.

magic_ball_library_columns_castle_63093_1280x1280If nothing else, the ending to the decade-long epic television masterpiece, Game of Thrones,certainly stirred a lot of discussion. And feelings. And more discussion.

I said my piece on it. Mostly positive (Seasons 1-6), with some criticism over the rushed execution of the final two. Problems that could’ve been solved with more time. But once I released my thoughts into the universe, I realized I’d already moved on. Whatever I loved and didn’t love about the show, it was merely an interpretation of a world I loved long before there was a first season script. A world I’ll return to on the page, again and again and, one day, hopefully, read the ending delivered by the man who created it to begin with. A true fantasy cycle, complete.

More than that, it got me thinking. Anyone who knows me, or has followed this blog since the beginning, knows my love of Tolkien. When I had more time to do it, I wrote a number of essays on the Tolkienverse (posted here on this blog for those so inclined). But, almost equally, although very differently, I love the world of The Song of Ice and Fire. I love it in a similar way I love the Warcraft universe. And while I’ve tried to find other fantasy that fits me the way ASoIaF does, it’s a tough fit.

Much of fantasy deals with the idea of a central hero, and any number of things he must do/not do, discover/not discover. Parallel to that is the of a battle between idea of light and dark, and the underlying conflict that runs through many fantasy worlds. I’ve read a number of really solid fantasy series—well written, exceptional character development and worldbuilding—that nonetheless didn’t leave me satisfied.

What I realized, as I pondered the new void left by the departure of Thrones from television, was that what I love about ASoIaF are those things that cross over into my favorite genre to read: historical fiction (and non-fiction).

b61f15f1c370a3829d13a1feb1b6217d--queen-of-england-rule-britanniaWhat caused me to pick up the series years ago was reading that Martin used the Plantagenets, and more specifically, the Wars of the Roses, as inspiration. Hello! England 1066-1603 is my entire aesthetic! So, of course I picked it up, and of course I loved it. Although a parallel world, it had all the intrigue and web-weaving of the real-life history that, to this day, is better than any fiction (don’t @ me).

What I love about the series is that it’s less about a quest, or a single goal, and more about an event that sends an entire kingdom into turmoil. It’s about all the things each of the characters do as a result of that inciting event, who they were, who they become, how they become what they become together, or apart. It’s about family and lineage; a rich, interconnected history. And yes, it has dragons, but those dragons are more interesting to me in light of their link to the family who purportedly shares their blood and history.

I know, I know, Tolkien did the hero/quest thing, and his work is, bar-none, my favorite to ever be written. But Tolkien set the stage, while others iterated and interpreted. That isn’t to say some didn’t do it as well, or better, only that for me that gold only struck once.

For me, a fantasy series that ticks the boxes has an event that, however small, changes everything; that has all the richness of historical fiction; that draws on the complexity of family and lineage in a way that drives the central plot(s).

All that to say, once this realization hit me, the ideas started flowing. I spent the past few days worldbuilding an entirely new parallel world, writing tens of thousands of notes and biographies and histories. Drawing from what fascinates me about the Middle Ages of our own world, mixing it with my favorite fantasy elements. I’ve already built rich genealogies and am starting now on their stories and histories. I have a map! It’s rudimentary, but one day I’ll have one designed professionally; it’s far too early to commit anything to precision. And although I’m not ready to start writing in this world, the very first line of the series popped into my head, practically screaming at me. No, I’m not sharing it… not just yet, anyway.

Of course, worldbuilding was always my favorite part of the creative process. Anyone who has read my House of Crimson & Clover series, love or hate it, knows how much time was spent on genealogy and history. The writing part is decidedly more complicated, but it’s the coloring in that makes the world really real.

What I know for sure is this: I’ve never been so energized by a project.

What does this mean for my other projects? It doesn’t change much. A Storm of Revelations (Midnight Dynasty Book 2) releases June 18th, and 1976 (The Seven Book 6) comes out on my birthday, July 31st. I haven’t set a date for 1980, the final Seven book, but my plan was to finish the series this year. I hadn’t planned another Midnight Dynasty release until 2020 at the earliest, and my Vampires of the Merovingi series (historical fantasy) takes considerable time for proper historical research. I’ll continue to work with Becket on our co-writing projects, which we do in the spaces in between.

With The Seven almost finished, that frees up a lot more of my creative time, and with a vision this clear, and this real, expect to hear a lot more about this in the coming months.

 

 

Cover Reveal: 1970, The Seven Book One


1970, The Seven Book #1
Author: Sarah M. Cradit
World: Saga of Crimson & Clover
Designation: Crimson & Clover Origin Series
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Family Drama, Paranormal, Historical Fantasy
Cover Designer: Sarah M. Cradit
Editor: Emily A. Lawrence

Book Synopsis:

Seven Siblings. Seven Years. Seven Spellbinding Novels.

New Orleans. The seven Deschanel siblings live with their long-suffering mother in a historic Garden District mansion. Each of them unique. Each of them born with a gift. In some cases, a gift they wish they could give back.

When August Deschanel died, he left his wife, Irish Colleen, with more than seven children to raise. She inherited a job she was never prepared for: bringing up his heirs in a world she doesn’t understand. She’d never seen true magic, not before marrying into the most prominent-and mysterious-family in New Orleans. Now, she can’t escape it.

Irish Colleen knows a terrible secret. Her youngest, a prophet, has seen a future that is unavoidable: the Deschanels will not leave 1970 without losing one of the seven. She knows only that it will happen, but not when, how… or to whom.

Charles, the playboy heir apparent. Augustus, the family fixer. Colleen, the unfailing pragmatist. Madeline, the bleeding heart. Evangeline, the genius. Maureen, the dreamer. Elizabeth, the tortured one.

One of her children must die, and Irish Colleen can do nothing to stop it.

Pre Order – Links

About Sarah

Sarah is the USA Today bestselling author of the Paranormal Southern Gothic series, The House of Crimson & Clover, born of her combined passion for New Orleans, and the mysterious complexity of human nature. Her work has been described as rich, emotive, and highly dimensional.
An unabashed geek, Sarah enjoys studying obscure subjects like the Plantagenet and Ptolemaic dynasties, and settling debates on provocative Tolkien topics such as why the Great Eagles are not Gandalf’s personal taxi service. Passionate about travel, Sarah has visited over twenty countries collecting sparks of inspiration (though New Orleans is where her heart rests). She’s a self-professed expert at crafting original songs to sing to her very patient pets, and a seasoned professional at finding ways to humiliate herself (bonus points if it happens in public). When at home in Oregon, her husband and best friend, James, is very kind about indulging her love of fast German cars and expensive lattes.

 

Home House of Crimson & Clover Prequels $.99 Through 6/2 Only!

For a limited time, get all three prequel stories to the bestselling House of Crimson & Clover series for only $.99!

Collection Includes: The Storm and the Darkness, Shattered, and Shame

iBooks 

 Amazon 

 Kobo 

 Barnes & Noble Nook 

 Google Play

Her talent for creating atmosphere rivals Daphne du Maurier. This is modern Gothic with fierce smarts. Can’t say it enough. I loved this book.

– Christopher Rice, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Heavens Rise

New Garden District Map- Designed by Raven Quinn- Available in A Tempest of Discovery!

ATempestofDiscovery_ebookMany of my readers know that the little touches are part of what makes the experience in the world of Crimson & Clover. My website has an entire section of bonus content which grows regularly, and most of the books have family trees and other fun additions. I do this as an author because it’s what I love as a reader.

One thing I’ve wanted for years is to create a series of maps that complement the series. From real places (like New Orleans, Paris) to those that unfurled from the dark corners of my imagination (Farjhem, Summer Island), the precision of each in relation to the books exists mostly in my imagination. If I’m doing my job, readers can come close in their own visualizations, but that still isn’t the same as having something you can reference.

I searched the web for stock photography I could purchase licenses for (for those places which really do exist, that is!), but found nothing that fit the bill. That’s when I realized that one of the most talented people I know has made some incredibly fun maps for others– Raven Quinn.

Full disclosure, I love this woman to death. We’re soul mates on multiple levels. But business is business and I would never have chosen someone who I did not think could do this appropriate to my vision.

I chose The Garden District for this first project because this has been the central hub of the Deschanels and Sullivans all along. There are so many other places of importance, from the French Quarter to River Road, and we will get there. But this felt the most appropriate starting point.

Without further adieu, here is the brilliance Raven produced:

Sarah Map 041918print

The map does not include every single character who lives in the Garden District, but it does contain locations for key properties, characters, and other locales.

The map will be live in the bonus content section of my website in the next day or so, for readers to expand and zoom in as they read.

If you haven’t yet picked up your copy of A Tempest of Discovery, the updated ebook version should be available 4/22. Paperbacks on Amazon will also be available 4/22, and paperbacks on other retailers within the next couple of weeks. In the future, I’ll also be looking to release a special edition collector’s paperback that includes the full-color version.

While this map will be available in the Midnight Dynasty series books only for now, the locations are relevant for House of Crimson & Clover as well as The Seven.

Meanwhile, check out my girl Raven Quinn. Art is only her side hustle (which is pretty incredible given how ridiculously talented she is). She’s actually a mega talented singer/songwriter, and if you like artists such as Shirley Manson or Amy Lee, you’ll absolutely love her. She’s also on Instagram and Facebook.

Happy Reading!

Sarah

6 Accomplishments, 6 Learnings, 6 Goals

GoodBye-2017-Welcome-2018-HD-Photos-1024x1024 (1)As 2017 came to a close, I found myself thinking, “this isn’t my best year. Not my biggest year.” But certainly it was a year of growth, change, and big pivots. The market has shifted, as has my focus. Every year, I use my learnings of the prior to inform the next. 2017’s work has set me on a whole new trajectory, and I can’t wait to see where it goes.

6 Accomplishments of 2017

  1. Hit the Top 100 (Top 50, and 20 as well) on Amazon three times in the US on my own titles. Hit the Top 10 in AU, UK, CA, and IT. Also, Top 10 at Barnes & Noble and Kobo, and Top 50 at iBooks. This is on par with my performance of 2016 as well.
  2. Finished the House of Crimson & Clover series. This was something I never thought I would do. 12 volumes, 13 lagniappes, and multiple boxed sets. But closing this door led to the opening of the broader Saga of Crimson & Clover, where the world continues in different ways.
  3. Launched the Saga of Crimson & Clover. Created unique branding and outlined three new series with releases in 2018, all within the same world. Endless possibilities await, and I could not be more excited.
  4. House of Dusk, House of Dawn Was a Top 10 Kobo Cover of 2017. This wasn’t something I submitted to. Kobo picked from among the 2017 releases and then notified those authors on the list. I was first a Top 10 Sci-Fi/Fantasy pick, and then as voting narrowed down, I made it into the final Top 10 for the year.
  5. Broadened horizons. In addition to getting more of my books into audio this year, I also welcomed opportunities to partner with Nook, iBooks, and Kobo. House of Dusk, House of Dawn, for example, was invited to an exclusive early release with Nook.
  6. Research trips add more exciting locales to Crimson & Clover. I always visit New Orleans each year, but in 2017 I also went to Paris, which became a key setting in my upcoming release, A Tempest of Discovery. In 2018, I look ahead to a spring trip to Italy.

6 Learnings in 2017

  1. Most paid advertising, with few exceptions, is DOA. The days of stacking tons of newsletter-based paid ads on a sale or new release seem to be over. Most simply do not have the ROI, and as readers get newsletter fatigue, they are narrowing down what they subscribe to and read. This makes services like Bookbub even more elusive and important.
  2. Facebook is entering the realm of impossible for reaching anyone. First, it was the pay walls. Now, it’s the unforgiving algorithms. This isn’t a debate on whether Facebook should be making it harder or not, just an observation that it becomes ever more important to find a way to engage on other platforms.
  3. Multi-author boxed sets used to be a key strategy for my publishing goals, both in terms of reaching new readers, as well as revenue generation. With the market oversaturated with these sets, my titles doing much more than sitting on someone’s Kindle is idealistic at best. If I do enter into one in the future, it will have something clear and marked that sets it apart from the competition.
  4. Thinking like readers has never been more important. Marketing books tends to follow the pattern of “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Just as there are trends in genres, there are trends in cover design, in marketing techniques, etc. Because of this, the way to emerge ahead of the trends is to think like a reader. What grabbed your eye? Why? Think beyond books, too. What made you stop and look in other forms of media?
  5. Need be more present and accessible. Due to the growing limitations of places like Facebook, it’s easy to just neglect to spend the time. But, Facebook or elsewhere, technology continues to provide more ways to be available and accessible. Podcasts, for example, or even live videos. The key is finding ways to make those channels engaging, rather than just one more thing.
  6. Your tribe is so important. Every year I’m reminded of this, but every year it bears repeating. The authors, readers, bloggers, etc. I am close to have been beacons of light in dark times. Few people know your struggles the way another artist does. Holding on to them, supporting them as they’ve supported you, is a key element of turning a solitary profession into a community.

6 Goals for 2018

  1. Launch 3 brand new series. With the pivot away from a single series into a universe of stories, I have three new series launching in 2018, all different genres but within the same world. I have releases planned for January, March, and the summer (book one for each), and will shift to the second book in each series in the second half of the year.
  2. Continue to strengthen my audio presence. Most of The House of Crimson & Clover is now in audio, thanks to my lovely narrator LC Kane. Want to finish this series and shift to the new ones releasing in 2018.
  3. Look into a marketplace on my website. Some authors have shifted their readers to a marketplace of their own for ebook retail. As Amazon strengthens their market stance and competitors get pushed back, it becomes more important for us to have some control over our digital inventory.
  4. More focused spending. With paid advertising via newsletters and social media waning, it’s time to pivot into other mediums. Find what works. Test, trial and error. Abandon what isn’t paying off, and embrace what is.
  5. Find ways to be more accessible without taking time away from writing. This is always the challenge, right? But I believe that it’s not the time you spend, but how you spend it. Effective uses of time are never a waste. A ten minute podcast might do more for reaching readers than 10 minutes of Facebook posts.
  6. Look to 2019, 2020, and beyond. There are three series coming, but there are more burning in the back of my mind. Need to get them outlined and on the calendar, and look for ways to continue to expand the world in a way that appeals to new readers but satisfies old ones.

 

What are your accomplishments and learnings from 2017? How are you looking ahead to 2018?

Happy New Year!

House of Dusk, House of Dawn A Top 10 Kobo Cover of the Year!

KWL_BestCover_Finalist.jpg

Thank you so much to those of you who voted “House of Dusk, House of Dawn,” from the Top 10 Fantasy/Sci-Fi list all the way to the Top 10 of 2017 finals. The cover didn’t win, but I sincerely mean this when I say I am beyond honored to have made it into the finals. Top 10 of how many thousands of books released? Humbled. Truly. Thank you!

HouseofDuskDawn_ebook